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Presented  to  the 

LIBRARY  of  the 




Library   of  The  World's   Best 

Mystery  and  Detective  Stories 

Library  of 
The  World's  Best 




Edited  by 


One  Hundred  and  One 

Tales  of  Mystery  by   Famous  Authors 

of  East  and  West 

In  Six  Volumes 

American  French,  Italian,  Etc. 

English  :  Scotch      German,  Russian,  Etc. 

English  :  Irish  Oriental  :  Modern  Magic 

New  York 
The  Review  of  Reviews  Company 


T  R A  N  S  L  AT  O  R  S 

whose  work  is  represented  in  this  collection 
of  ''The  World's  Best  MYSTERY  and 
DETECTIVE  STORIES,"  many  here 
rendered    into    English     for    the    first    time 

Arthur   Arrivet Japaneit 

John   P.    Brown Turkhh 

United  States  Legation,  Constantinople 

Jonathan  Sturges Trench 

Sir  Richard   Francis  Burton Arabic 

Lady   Isabel   Burton Arabic 

Grace   I.    Colbron German-Scandina'vian 

Frederick  Taber  Cooper,   Ph.D.    .    .    Romance  Languages 

George  F.   Duysters Spanish 

Herbert  A.  Giles Chinese 

Eritish  Consular  Sen'ice 

Glanvill  Gill French 

D.  F.    Hannigan,   LL.B French 

Louis   Hoffmann French 

Florence  Irwin French 

Charles  Johnston Kunian-Oriental 

Royal  Asiatic  Society,   Indian  Civil  Service 

R.    Shelton   Mackenzie       French 

Ellen  Marriage French 

John  A.    Pierce French 

W.    R.    S.    Ralston,    M.A Tibetan 

Edward  Rehatsek Persian 

Royal  Asiatic  Society,  Examiner  llombay  University 

Mary  J.    Safford French 

Franz  Anton  von  Schiefner Tibetan 

l,ibrarian,  St.   Petersburg  Academy  of  Sciences 
Charles  Henry  Tawney,   M.A.,   CLE Hindoe 

Librarian,  India  Office 

R.  Whittling,   M.A.  (OxoN.) French 

Edward   Ziegler German 






















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be  j: 

Library   of 
The   World's   Best 




Edited  by 




Julian  Hawthorne  Ambrose  Bierce 

F.  Marion  Crawford  Edgar  Allan  Poe 

Mary  E.  Wilkins  Freeman  Washington  Irving 

Melville   D.  Post  Charles  Brockden  Brown 

New  York 
The  Review  of  Reviews  Company 


Copyright,  1907,  by 
The  Review  of  Reviews  Company 


Table  of  Contents 


Introduction  by  Julian  Hawthorne. 

"Riddle  Stones" 9 

F.  Marion  Crawford  (1854 — ). 

By  the  Waters  of  Paradise 21 

Mary  E.  Wilkins  Freeman  (1862 — ). 

The  Shadows  on  the  Wall 47 

Melville  D.  Post  (1871 — ). 

The  Corpus  Delicti 65 

Ambrose  Bierce  (1842 — ). 

An  Heiress  from  Redhorse 97 

The  Man  and  the  Snake 103 

Edgar  Allan  Poe  (1809-49). 

The  Oblong  Box 112 

The  Gold-Bug 124 

Washington  Irving  (1783-1859). 

Wolfert  Webber,  or  Golden  Dreams       .       .       .       -     165 
Adventure  of  the  Black  Fisherman 189 

Charles  Brockden  Brown  (1771-1810). 

Wieland's  Madness 222 

•  ^^  Riddle    Stories''^ 
Introduction  by  Julian  Hawthorne 

V\7HEN  Poe  wrote  his  immortal  Dupin  talcs,  the  name 
"  Detective  "  stories  had  not  been  invented ;  the  de- 
tective of  fiction  not  having  been  as  yet  discovered.  And 
the  title  is  still  something  of  a  misnomer,  for  many  nar- 
ratives involving  a  puzzle  of  some  sort,  though  belonging 
to  the  category  which  I  wish  to  discuss,  are  handled  by  the 
writer  without  expert  detective  aid.  Sometimes  the  puzzle 
solves  itself  through  operation  of  circumstance  ;  sometimes 
somebody  who  professes  no  special  detective  skill  happens 
upon  the  secret  of  its  mystery ;  once  in  a  while  some  ven- 
turesome genius  has  the  courage  to  leave  his  enigma  unex- 
plained. But  ever  since  Gaboriau  created  his  Lecoq,  the 
transcendant  detective  has  been  in  favor ;  and  Conan  Doyle's 
famous  gentleman  analyst  has  given  him  a  fresh  lease  of 
life,  and  reanimated  the  stage  by  reverting  to  the  method 
of  Poe.  Sherlock  Holmes  is  Dupin  redivivus,  and  mutatus 
mutandis ;  personally  he  is  a  more  stirring  and  engaging 
companion,  but  so  far  as  kinship  to  probabilities  or  even 
possibilities  is  concerned,  perhaps  the  older  version  of  him 
is  the  more  presentable.  But  in  this  age  of  marvels  we 
seem  less  difficult  to  suit  in  this  respect  than  our  forefathers 

The  fact  is,  meanwhile,  that,  in  the  riddle  story,  the  de- 
tective was  an  afterthought,  or,  more  accurately,  a  deus  ex 
machina  to  make  the  story  go.  The  riddle  had  to  be  un- 
riddled ;  and  who  could  do  it  so  naturally  and  readily  as  a 
detective  ?  The  detective,  as  Poe  saw  him,  was  a  means  to 
this  end ;  and  it  was  only  afterwards  that  writers  perceived 
his  availability  as  a  character.  Lecoq  accordingly  becomes 
a  figure  in  fiction,  and  Sherlock,  while  he  was  as  yet  a 


American  Mystery  Stories 

novelty,  was  nearly  as  attractive  as  the  complications  in 
which  he  involved  himself.  Riddle-story  writers  in  gen- 
eral, however,  encounter  the  obvious  embarrassment  that 
their  detective  is  obliged  to  lavish  so  much  attention  on  the 
professional  services  which  the  exigencies  of  the  tale  de- 
mand of  him,  that  he  has  very  little  leisure  to  expound  his 
own  personal  equation — the  rather  since  the  attitude  of 
peering  into  a  millstone  is  not,  of  itself,  conducive  to  eluci- 
dations of  oneself;  the  professional  endowment  obscures 
all  the  others.  We  ordinarily  find,  therefore,  our  author 
dismissing  the  individuality  of  his  detective  with  a  few 
strong  black-chalk  outlines,  and  devoting  his  main  labor 
upon  what  he  feels  the  reader  will  chiefly  occupy  his  own 
ingenuity  with, — namely,  the  elaboration  of  the  riddle  itself. 
Reader  and  writer  sit  down  to  a  game,  as  it  were,  with  the 
odds,  of  course,  altogether  on  the  latter's  side, — apart  from 
the  fact  that  a  writer  sometimes  permits  himself  a  little 
cheating.  It  more  often  happens  that  the  detective  appears 
to  be  in  the  writer's  pay,  and  aids  the  deception  by  leading 
the  reader  off  on  false  scents.  Be  that  as  it  may,  the  pro- 
fessional sleuth  is  in  nine  cases  out  of  ten  a  dummy  by 
malice  prepense ;  and  it  might  be  plausibly  argued  that,  in 
the  interests  of  pure  art,  that  is  what  he  ought  to  be.  But 
genius  always  finds  a  way  that  is  better  than  the  rules,  and 
I  think  it  will  be  found  that  the  very  best  riddle  stories  con- 
trive to  drive  character  and  riddle  side  by  side,  and  to  make 
each  somehow  enhance  the  effect  of  the  other. — The  inten- 
tion of  the  above  paragraph  will  be  more  precisely  conveyed 
if  I  include  under  the  name  of  detective  not  only  the  man 
from  the  central  office,  but  also  anybody  whom  the  writer 
may,  for  ends  of  his  own,  consider  better  qualified  for  that 
function.  The  latter  is  a  professional  detective  so  far  as 
the  exigencies  of  the  tale  are  concerned,  and  what  becomes 
of  him  after  that  nobody  need  care, — there  is  no  longer  any- 
thing to  prevent  his  becoming,  in  his  own  right,  the  most 
fascinating  of  mankind. 

But  in  addition  to  the  dummyship  of  the  detective,  or  to 
the  cases  in  which  the  mere  slip  of  circumstance  takes  his 


Julian  Hawthorne 

place,  there  is  another  reason  against  narrowing  our  con- 
ception of  the  riddle  story  to  the  degree  which  the  alter- 
native appellation  would  imply.  And  that  is,  that  it  would 
exclude  not  a  few  of  the  most  captivating  riddle  stories  in 
existence ;  for  in  De  Quincey's  "  Avenger,"  for  example,  the 
interest  is  not  in  the  unraveling  of  the  web,  but  in  the  weav- 
ing of  it.  The  same  remark  applies  to  Bulwer's  "  Strange 
Story  ":  it  is  the  strangeness  that  is  the  thing.  There  is,  in 
short,  an  inalienable  charm  in  the  mere  contemplation  of 
mystery  and  the  hazard  of  fortunes ;  and  it  would  be  a  pity 
to  shut  them  out  from  our  consideration  only  because  there 
is  no  second-sighted  conjurer  on  hand  to  turn  them  into 
plain  matter  of  fact. 

Yet  we  must  not  be  too  liberal ;  and  a  ghost  story  can  be 
brought  into  our  charmed  and  charming  circle  only  if  we 
have  made  up  our  minds  to  believe  in  the  ghosts ;  other- 
wise their  introduction  would  not  be  a  square  deal.  It 
would  not  be  fair,  in  other  words,  to  propose  a  conundrum 
on  a  basis  of  ostensible  materialism,  and  then,  when  no 
other  key  would  fit,  to  palm  off  a  disembodied  spirit  on  us. 
Tell  me  beforehand  that  your  scenario  is  to  include  both 
worlds,  and  I  have  no  objection  to  make ;  I  simply  attune 
my  mind  to  the  more  extensive  scope.  But  I  rebel  at  an 
unheralded  ghostland,  and  declare  frankly  that  your  tale  is 
incredible.  And  I  must  confess  that  I  would  as  lief  have 
ghosts  kept  out  altogether ;  their  stories  make  a  very  good 
library  in  themselves,  and  have  no  need  to  tag  themselves 
on  to  what  is  really  another  department  of  fiction.  Never- 
theless, when  a  ghost  story  is  told  with  the  consummate  art 
of  a  Miss  Wilkins,  and  of  one  or  two  others  on  our  list, 
consistency  in  this  regard  ceases  to  be  a  jewel ;  art  proves 
irresistible.  As  for  adventure  stories,  there  is  a  fringe  of 
them  that  comes  under  the  riddle-story  head ;  but  for  the 
most  part  the  riddle  story  begins  after  the  adventures  have 
finished.  We  are  to  contemplate  a  condition,  not  to  watch 
the  events  that  ultimate  in  it.  Our  detective,  or  anyone 
else,  may  of  course  meet  with  haps  and  mishaps  on  his  way 
to  the  solution  of  his  puzzle ;  but  an  astute  writer  will  not 


American  Mystery  Stories 

color  such  incidents  too  vividly,  lest  he  risk  forfeiting  our 
preoccupation  with  the  problem  that  we  came  forth  for  to 
study.     In  a  word,  One  thing  at  a  time ! 

The  foregoing  disquisition  may  seem  uncalled  for  by 
such  rigid  moralists  as  have  made  up  their  minds  not  to 
regard  detective,  or  riddle  stories,  as  any  part  of  respect- 
able literature  at  all.  With  that  sect,  I  announce  at  the 
outset  that  I  am  entirely  out  of  sympathy.  It  is  not  needed 
to  compare  "  The  Gold  Bug  "  with  "  Paradise  Lost  " ;  no- 
body denies  the  superior  Uterary  stature  of  the  latter,  al- 
though, as  the  Oxford  Senior  Wrangler  objected,  "  What 
does  it  prove  ?  "  But  I  appeal  to  Emerson,  who,  in  his 
poem  of  "  The  Mountain  and  the  Squirrel,"  states  the  nub 
of  the  argument,  with  incomparable  feUcity,  as  follows : — 
you  will  recall  that  the  two  protagonists  had  a  difference, 
originating  in  the  fact  that  the  former  called  the  latter 
'*  Little  Prig."  Bun  made  a  very  sprightly  retort,  sum- 
ming up  to  this  effect : — 

"  Talents  differ  ;  all  is  well  and  wisely  put ; 
If  I  cannot  carry  forests  on  my  back, 
Neither  can  you  crack  a  nut." 

Andes  and  Paradises  Lost  are  expedient  and  perhaps 
necessary  in  their  proper  atmosphere  and  function ;  but 
Squirrels  and  Gold  Bugs  are  indispensable  in  our  daily 
walk.  There  is  as  fine  and  as  true  literature  in  Poe's 
Tales  as  in  Milton's  epics;  only  the  elevation  and  dimen- 
sions differ.  But  I  would  rather  live  in  a  world  that  pos- 
sessed only  literature  of  the  Poe  caliber,  than  shiver  in 
one  echoing  solely  the  strains  of  the  Miltonian  muse. 
Mere  human  beings  are  not  constructed  to  stand  all  day 
a-tiptoe  on  the  misty  mountain  tops ;  they  Uke  to  walk  the 
streets  most  of  the  time  and  sit  in  easy  chairs.  And 
writings  that  picture  the  human  mind  and  nature,  in  true 
colors  and  in  artistic  proportions,  are  literature,  and  no- 
body has  any  business  to  pooh-pooh  them.  In  fact,  I  feel 
as  if  I  were  knocking  down  a  man  of  straw.     I  look  in 


Julian  Hawthorne 

vain  for  any  genuine  resistance.  Of  course  "  The  Gold 
Bug  "  is  literature ;  of  course  any  other  story  of  mystery 
and  puzzle  is  also  literature,  provided  it  is  as  good  as  "  The 
Gold  Bug," — or  I  will  say,  since  that  standard  has  never 
since  been  quite  attained,  provided  it  is  a  half  or  a  tenth 
as  good.  It  is  goldsmith's  work;  it  is  Chinese  carving;  it 
is  Daedalian ;  it  is  fine.  It  is  the  product  of  the  ingenuity 
lobe  of  the  human  brain  working  and  expatiating  in  free- 
dom. It  is  art ;  not  spiritual  or  transcendental  art,  but 
solid  art,  to  be  felt  and  experienced.  You  may  examine  it 
at  your  leisure,  it  will  be  always  ready  for  you ;  you  need 
not  fast  or  watch  your  arms  overnight  in  order  to  under- 
stand it.  Look  at  the  nice  setting  of  the  mortises ;  mark 
how  the  cover  fits ;  how  smooth  is  the  working  of  that 
spring  drawer.  Observe  that  this  bit  of  carving,  which 
seemed  mere  ornament,  is  really  a  vital  part  of  the  mechan- 
ism. Note,  moreover,  how  balanced  and  symmetrical  the 
whole  design  is,  with  what  economy  and  foresight  every 
part  is  fashioned.  It  is  not  only  an  ingenious  structure, 
it  is  a  handsome  bit  of  furniture,  and  will  materially  im- 
prove the  looks  of  the  empty  chambers,  or  disorderly  or 
ungainly  chambers  that  you  carry  under  your  crown.  Or 
if  it  happen  that  these  apartments  are  noble  in  decoration 
and  proportions,  then  this  captivating  little  object  will  find 
a  suitable  place  in  some  spare  nook  or  other,  and  will  rest 
or  entertain  eyes  too  long  focused  on  the  severely  sublime 
and  beautiful.  I  need  not,  however,  rely  upon  abstract  ar- 
gument to  support  my  contention.  Many  of  the  best  writ- 
ers of  all  time  have  used  their  skill  in  the  inverted  form  of 
story  telling,  as  a  glance  at  our  table  of  contents  will  show ; 
and  many  of  their  tales  depend  for  their  efifect  as  much  on 
character  and  atmosphere  as  on  the  play  and  complication 
of  events. 

The  statement  that  a  good  detective  or  riddle  story  is  good 
in  art  is  supported  by  the  fact  that  the  supply  of  really  good 
ones  is  relatively  small,  while  the  number  of  writers  who 
would  write  good  ones  if  they  could,  and  who  have  tried 
and  failed  to  write  them,  is  past  computation.     And  one 


American  Mystery  Stories 

reason  probably  is  that  such  stories,  for  their  success,  must 
depend  primarily  upon  structure — a  sound  and  perfect  plot 
— which  IS  one  of  the  rare  things  in  our  contemporary  fic- 
tion. Our  writers  get  hold  of  an  incident,  or  a  sentiment, 
or  a  character,  or  a  moral  principle,  or  a  bit  of  technical 
knowledge,  or  a  splotch  of  local  color,  or  even  of  a  new 
version  of  dialect,  and  they  will  do  something  in  two  to  ten 
thousand  words  out  of  that  and  call  it  a  short  story.  Maga- 
zines may  be  found  to  print  it — for  there  are  all  manner  of 
magazines ;  but  nothing  of  that  sort  will  serve  for  a  riddle 
story.  You  cannot  make  a  riddle  story  by  beginning  it  and 
then  trusting  to  luck  to  bring  it  to  an  end.  You  must  know 
all  about  the  end  and  the  middle  before  thinking,  even,  of 
the  beginning ;  the  beginning  of  a  riddle  story,  unlike  those 
of  other  stories  and  of  other  enterprises,  is  not  half  the  bat- 
tle ;  it  is  next  to  being  quite  unimportant,  and,  moreover, 
it  is  always  easy.  The  unexplained  corpse  lies  weltering  in 
its  gore  in  the  first  paragraph ;  the  inexplicable  cipher  pre- 
sents its  enigma  at  the  turning  of  the  opening  page.  The 
wTiter  who  is  secure  in  the  knowledge  that  he  has  got  a 
good  thing  coming,  and  has  arranged  the  manner  and  de- 
tails of  its  coming,  cannot  go  far  wrong  with  his  exordium ; 
he  wants  to  get  into  action  at  once,  and  that  is  his  best 
assurance  that  he  will  do  it  in  the  right  way.  But  O !  what 
a  labor  and  sweat  it  is ;  what  a  planning  and  trimming ;  what 
a  remodeling,  curtailing,  interlining;  what  despairs  suc- 
ceeded by  new  lights,  what  heroic  expedients  tried  at  the 
last  moment,  and  dismissed  the  moment  after ;  what  waste- 
paper  baskets  full  of  futilities,  and  what  gallant  commence- 
ments all  over  again !  Did  the  reader  know,  or  remotely 
suspect,  what  terrific  struggles  the  writer  of  a  really  good 
detective  story  had  sustained,  he  would  regard  the  final 
product  with  a  new  wonder  and  respect,  and  read  it  all  over 
once  more  to  find  out  how  the  troubles  occurred.  But  he 
will  search  in  vain ;  there  are  no  signs  of  them  left ;  no,  not 
so  much  as  a  scar.  The  tale  moves  along  as  smoothly  and 
inevitably  as  oiled  machinery ;  obviously,  it  could  not  have 
been  arranged  otherwise  than  it  is;  and  the  wise  reader  is 


Julian  Hawthorne 

convinced  that  he  could  have  done  the  thing  himself  with- 
out half  trying.  At  that,  the  weary  writer  smiles  a  bitter 
smile ;  but  it  is  one  of  the  spurns  that  patient  merit  of  the 
unworthy  takes.  Nobody,  except  him  who  has  tried  it,  will 
ever  know  how  hard  it  is  to  write  a  really  good  detective 
story.  The  man  or  woman  who  can  do  it  can  also  write  a 
good  play  (according  to  modern  ideas  of  plays),  and  pos- 
sesses force  of  character,  individuality,  and  mental  ability. 
He  or  she  must  combine  the  intuition  of  the  artist  with  the 
talent  of  the  master  mechanic,  but  will  seldom  be  a  poet, 
and  will  generally  care  more  for  things  and  events  than  for 
fellow  creatures.  For,  although  the  story  is  often  concerned 
with  righting  some  wrong,  or  avenging  some  murder,  yet 
it  must  be  confessed  that  the  author  commonly  succeeds 
better  in  the  measure  of  his  ruthlessness  in  devising  crimes 
and  giving  his  portraits  of  devils  an  extra  touch  of  black. 
Mercy  is  not  his  strong  point,  however  he  may  abound  in 
justice ;  and  he  will  not  stickle  at  piling  up  the  agony,  if 
thereby  he  provides  opportunity  for  enhancing  the  pictur- 
esqueness  and  completeness  of  the  evil  doer's  due. 

But  this  leads  me  to  the  admission  that  one  charge,  at 
least,  does  lie  against  the  door  of  the  riddle-story  writer; 
and  that  is,  that  he  is  not  sincere;  he  makes  his  mysteries 
backward,  and  knows  the  answer  to  his  riddle  before  he 
states  its  terms.  He  deliberately  supplies  his  reader,  also, 
with  all  manner  of  false  scents,  well  knowing  them  to  be 
such ;  and  concocts  various  seeming  artless  and  innocent 
remarks  and  allusions,  which  in  reality  are  diabolically  art- 
ful, and  would  deceive  the  very  elect.  All  this,  I  say,  must 
be  conceded ;  but  it  is  not  unfair;  the  very  object,  ostensibly, 
of  the  riddle  story  is  to  prompt  you  to  sharpen  your  wits ; 
and  as  you  are  yourself  the  real  detective  in  the  case,  so  you 
must  regard  your  author  as  the  real  criminal  whom  you  are 
to  detect.  Credit  no  statement  of  his  save  as  supported  by 
the  clearest  evidence;  be  continually  repeating  to  yourself, 
"  Timeo  Danaos  et  dona  ferentes," — nay,  never  so  much 
as  then.  But,  as  I  said  before,  when  the  game  is  well  set, 
you  have  no  chance  whatever  against  the  dealer;  and  for 


American  Mystery  Stories 

my  own  part,  I  never  try  to  be  clever  when  I  go  up  against 
these  thimble-riggers ;  I  believe  all  they  tell  me,  and  accept 
the  most  insolent  gold  bricks ;  and  in  that  way  I  occasion- 
ally catch  some  of  the  very  ablest  of  them  napping;  for 
they  are  so  subtle  that  they  will  sometimes  tell  you  the 
truth  because  they  think  you  will  suppose  it  to  be  a  lie.  I 
do  not  wish  to  catch  them  napping,  however ;  I  cling  to  the 
wisdom  of  ignorance,  and  childishly  enjoy  the  way  in  which 
things  work  themselves  out — the  cul-de-sac  resolving  itself 
at  the  very  last  moment  into  a  promising  corridor  toward 
the  outer  air.  At  every  rebuff  it  is  my  happiness  to  be 
hopelessly  bewildered ;  and  I  gape  with  admiration  when 
the  Gordian  knot  is  untied.  If  the  author  be  old-fashioned 
enough  to  apostrophize  the  Gentle  Reader,  I  know  he  must 
mean  me,  and  docilely  give  ear,  and  presently  tumble  head- 
foremost into  the  treacherous  pit  he  has  digged  for  me. 
In  brief,  I  am  there  to  be  sold,  and  I  get  my  money's  worth. 
No  one  can  thoroughly  enjoy  riddle  stories  unless  he  is 
old  enough,  or  young  enough,  or,  at  any  rate,  wise  enough 
to  appreciate  the  value  of  the  faculty  of  being  surprised. 
Those  sardonic  and  omniscient  persons  who  know  every- 
thing beforehand,  and  smile  compassionately  or  scornfully 
at  the  artless  outcries  of  astonishment  of  those  who  are  un- 
informed, may  get  an  ill-natured  satisfaction  out  of  the 
persuasion  that  they  are  superior  beings ;  but  there  is  very 
little  meat  in  that  sort  of  happiness,  and  the  uninformed 
have  the  better  lot  after  all. 

I  need  hardly  point  out  that  there  is  a  distinction  and  a 
difference  between  short  riddle  stories  and  long  ones — 
novels.  The  former  require  far  more  technical  art  for  their 
proper  development ;  the  enigma  cannot  be  posed  in  so  many 
ways,  but  must  be  stated  once  for  all ;  there  cannot  be  false 
scents,  or  but  a  few  of  them ;  there  can  be  small  oppor- 
tunity for  character  drawing,  and  all  kinds  of  ornament 
and  comment  must  be  reduced  to  their  very  lowest  terms. 
Here,  indeed,  as  everywhere,  genius  will  have  its  way ;  and 
while  a  merely  talented  writer  would  deem  it  impossible 
to  tell  the  story  of  "  The  Gold  Bug  "  in  less  than  a  volume, 


Julian  Hazvfhorne 

Poe  could  do  it  in  a  few  thousand  words,  and  yet  appear 
to  have  said  everything  worth  saying.  In  the  case  of  the 
Sherlock  Holmes  tales,  they  form  a  series,  and  our  pre- 
vious knowledge  of  the  hero  enables  the  writer  to  dispense 
with  much  description  and  accompaniment  that  would  be 
necessary  had  that  eminent  personage  been  presented  in 
only  a  single  complication  of  events.  Each  special  episode 
of  the  great  analyst's  career  can  therefore  be  handled  with 
the  utmost  economy,  and  yet  fill  all  the  requirements  of 
intelligent  interest  and  comprehension.  But,  as  a  rule,  the 
riddle  novel  approaches  its  theme  in  a  spirit  essentially 
other  than  that  which  inspires  the  short  tale.  We  are  given, 
as  it  were,  a  wide  landscape  instead  of  a  detailed  genre 
picture.  The  number  of  the  dramatis  persona  is  much 
larger,  and  the  parts  given  to  many  of  them  may  be  very 
small,  though  each  should  have  his  or  her  necessary  func- 
tion in  the  general  plan.  It  is  much  easier  to  create  per- 
plexity on  these  terms;  but  on  the  other  hand,  the  riddle 
novel  demands  a  power  of  vivid  character  portrayal  and  of 
telling  description  which  are  not  indispensable  in  the  "briefer 
narrative.  A  famous  tale,  published  perhaps  forty  years 
ago,  but  which  cannot  be  included  in  our  series,  tells  the 
story  of  a  murder  the  secret  of  which  is  admirably  con- 
cealed till  the  last ;  and  much  of  the  fascination  of  the  book 
is  due  to  the  ability  with  which  the  leading  character,  and 
some  of  the  surbordinate  ones,  are  drawn.  The  author  was 
a  woman,  and  I  have  often  marveled  that  women  so  sel- 
dom attempt  this  form  of  literature;  many  of  them  pos- 
sess a  good  constructive  faculty,  and  their  love  of  detail 
and  of  mystery  is  notorious.  Perhaps  they  are  too  fond 
of  sentiment;  and  sentiment  must  be  handled  with  caution 
in  riddle  stories.  The  fault  of  all  riddle  novels  is  that 
they  inevitably  involve  two  kinds  of  interest,  and  can  sel- 
dom balance  these  so  perfectly  that  one  or  the  other  of 
them,  shall  not  suffer,  ^he  mind  of  the  reader  becomes 
weary  in  its  frequent  journeys  between  human  characters 
on  one  side  the  mysterious  events  on  the  other,  and 
would  prefer  the  more  single-eyed  treatment  of  the  short 


American  Mystery  Stories 

tale.  Wonder,  too,  Is  a  very  tender  and  short-lived  emo- 
tion, and  sometimes  perishes  after  a  few  pages.  Curiosity- 
is  tougher ;  but  that  too  may  be  baffled  too  long,  and  end 
by  tiring  of  the  pursuit  while  it  is  yet  in  its  early  stages. 
Many  excellent  plots,  admirable  from  the  constructive  point 
of  view,  have  been  wasted  by  stringing  them  out  too  far; 
the  reader  recognizes  their  merit,  but  loses  his  enthusiasm 
on  account  of  a  sort  of  monotony  of  strain;  he  wickedly 
turns  to  the  concluding  chapter,  and  the  game  is  up. 
*'  The  Woman  in  White,"  by  Wilkie  Collins,  was  published 
about  i860,  I  think,  in  weekly  installments,  and  certainly 
they  were  devoured  with  insatiable  appetite  by  many  thou- 
sands of  readers.  But  I  doubt  whether  a  book  of  similar 
merit  could  command  such  a  following  to-day;  and  I  will 
even  confess  that  I  have  myself  never  read  the  concluding 
parts,  and  do  not  know  to  this  day  who  the  woman  was 
or  what  were  the  wrongs  from  which  she  so  poignantly 

The  tales  contained  in  the  volumes  herewith  offered  are 
the  best  riddle  or  detective  stories  in  the  world,  according 
to  the  best  judgment  of  the  editors.  They  are  the  product 
of  writers  of  all  nations ;  and  translation,  in  this  case,  is 
less  apt  to  be  misleading  than  with  most  other  forms  of 
literature,  for  a  mystery  or  a  riddle  is  equally  captivating 
in  all  languages.  Many  of  the  good  ones — perhaps  some 
of  the  best  ones — have  been  left  out,  either  because  we 
missed  them  in  our  search,  or  because  we  had  to  choose 
between  them  and  others  seemingly  of  equal  excellence, 
and  were  obliged  to  consider  space  limitations  which,  how- 
ever generously  laid  out,  must  have  some  end  at  last.  Be 
that  as  it  may,  we  believe  that  there  are  enough  good  stories 
here  to  satisfy  the  most  Gargantuan  hunger,  and  we  feel 
sure  that  our  volumes  will  never  be  crowded  off  the  shelf 
which  has  once  made  room  for  them.  If  we  have,  now  and 
then,  a  little  transcended  the  strict  definition  of  the  class 
of  fiction  which  our  title  would  promise,  we  shall  never- 
theless not  anticipate  any  serious  quarrel  with  our  readers ; 
if  there  be  room  to  question  the  right  of  any  given  story 


Julian  Hawthorne 

to  appear  in  this  company,  there  will  be  all  the  more  reason 
for  accepting  it  on  its  own  merits ;  for  it  had  to  be  very 
good  indeed  in  order  to  overcome  its  technical  disquali- 
fication. And  if  it  did  not  rightfully  belong  here,  there 
would  probably  be  objections  as  strong  to  admitting  it  in 
any  other  collection.  Between  two  or  more  stools,  it  would 
be  a  pity  to  let  it  fall  to  the  ground ;  so  let  it  be  forgiven, 
and  please  us  with  whatever  gift  it  has. 

In  many  cases  where  copyrights  were  still  unexpired,  we 
have  to  express  our  acknowledgments  to  writers  and  pub- 
lishers who  have  accorded  us  the  courtesy  of  their  leave  to 
reproduce  what  their  genius  or  enterprise  has  created  and 
put  forth.  To  our  readers  we  take  pleasure  in  presenting 
what  we  know  cannot  fail  to  give  them  pleasure — a  collec- 
tion of  the  fruits  of  the  finest  literary  ingenuity  and  nicest 
art  accessible  to  the  human  mind.  Gaudeat,  non  caveat 

Julian  Hawthorne. 

American   Mystery   Stories 

F.   Marion   Crawford 
By  the   Waters  of  Paradise 


T  REMEMBER  my  childhood  very  distinctly.  I  do  not 
think  that  the  fact  argues  a  good  memory,  for  I  have 
never  been  clever  at  learning  words  by  heart,  in  prose  or 
rhyme;  so  that  I  believe  my  remembrance  of  events  de- 
pends much  more  upon  the  events  themselves  than  upon  my 
possessing  any  special  facility  for  recalling  them.  Perhaps 
I  am  too  imaginative,  and  the  earliest  impressions  I  received 
were  of  a  kind  to  stimulate  the  imagination  abnormally.  A 
long  series  of  little  misfortunes,  so  connected  with  each  other 
as  to  suggest  a  sort  of  weird  fatality,  so  worked  upon  my 
melancholy  temperament  when  I  was  a  boy  that,  before  I 
was  of  age,  I  sincerely  believed  myself  to  be  under  a  curse, 
and  not  only  myself,  but  my  whole  family  and  every  indi- 
vidual who  bore  my  name. 

I  was  born  in  the  old  place  where  my  father,  and  his 
father,  and  all  his  predecessors  had  been  born,  beyond  the 
memory  of  man.  It  is  a  very  old  house,  and  the  greater 
part  of  it  was  originally  a  castle,  strongly  fortified,  and 
surrounded  by  a  deep  moat  supplied  with  abundant  water 
from  the  hills  by  a  hidden  aqueduct.  Many  of  the  fortifica- 
tions have  been  destroyed,  and  the  moat  has  been  filled  up. 
The  water  from  the  aqueduct  supplies  great  fountains,  and 
runs  down  into  huge  oblong  basins  in  the  terraced  gardens, 
one  below  the  other,  each  surrounded  by  a  broad  pavement 
of  marble  between  the  water  and  the  flower-beds.  The 
waste  surplus  finally  escapes  through  an  artificial  grotto, 
some  thirty  yards  long,  into  a  stream,  flowing  down  through 
the  park  to  the  meadows  beyond,  and  thence  to  the  distant 


American  Mystery  Stories 

river.  The  buildings  were  extended  a  little  and  greatly 
altered  more  than  two  hundred  years  ago,  in  the  time  of 
Charles  II.,  but  since  then  little  has  been  done  to  improve 
them,  though  they  have  been  kept  in  fairly  good  repair,  ac- 
cording to  our  fortunes. 

In  the  gardens  there  are  terraces  and  huge  hedges  of  box 
and  evergreen,  some  of  which  used  to  be  clipped  into  shapes 
of  animals,  in  the  Italian  style.  I  can  remember  when  I 
was  a  lad  how  I  used  to  try  to  make  out  what  the  trees 
were  cut  to  represent,  and  how  I  used  to  appeal  for  ex- 
planations to  Judith,  my  Welsh  nurse.  She  dealt  in  a 
strange  mythology  of  her  own,  and  peopled  the  gardens 
with  griffins,  dragons,  good  genii  and  bad,  and  filled  my 
mind  with  them  at  the  same  time.  My  nursery  window 
aftorded  a  view  of  the  great  fountains  at  the  head  of  the 
tipper  basin,  and  on  moonlight  nights  the  Welshwoman 
would  hold  me  up  to  the  glass  and  bid  me  look  at  the  mist 
and  spray  rising  into  mysterious  shapes,  moving  mystically 
in  the  white  light  like  living  things. 

"  It's  the  Woman  of  the  Water,"  she  used  to  say ;  and 
sometimes  she  would  threaten  that  if  I  did  not  go  to  sleep 
the  Woman  of  the  Water  would  steal  up  to  the  high  win- 
dow and  carry  me  away  in  her  wet  arms. 

The  place  was  gloomy.  The  broad  basins  of  water  and 
the  tall  evergreen  hedges  gave  it  a  funereal  look,  and  the 
damp-stained  marble  causeways  by  the  pools  might  have 
been  made  of  tombstones.  The  gray  and  weather-beaten 
walls  and  towers  without,  the  dark  and  massively  furnished 
rooms  within,  the  deep,  mysterious  recesses  and  the  heavy 
curtains,  all  affected  my  spirits.  I  was  silent  and  sad  from 
my  childhood.  There  was  a  great  clock  tower  above,  from 
which  the  hours  rang  dismally  during  the  day,  and  tolled 
like  a  knell  in  the  dead  of  night.  There  was  no  light  nor 
life  in  the  house,  for  my  mother  was  a  helpless  invalid,  and 
my  father  had  grown  melancholy  in  his  long  task  of  caring 
for  her.  He  was  a  thin,  dark  man,  with  sad  eyes ;  kind,  I 
think,  but  silent  and  imhappy.  Next  to  my  mother,  I  be- 
lieve he  loved  me  better  than  anything  on  earth,  for  he  took 


F.  Marion  Crazuford 

immense  pains  and  trouble  in  teaching  me,  and  what  he 
taught  me  I  have  never  forgotten.  Perhaps  it  was  his  only 
amusement,  and  that  may  be  the  reason  why  I  had  no 
nursery  governess  or  teacher  of  any  kind  while  he  lived. 

I  used  to  be  taken  to  see  my  mother  every  day,  and  some- 
times twice  a  day,  for  an  hour  at  a  time.  Then  I  sat  upon  a 
little  stool  nea'r  her  feet,  and  she  would  ask  me  what  I  had 
been  doing,  and  what  I  wanted  to  do.  I  dare  say  she  saw 
already  the  seeds  of  a  profound  melancholy  in  my  nature, 
for  she  looked  at  me  always  with  a  sad  smile,  and  kissed 
me  with  a  sigh  when  I  was  taken  away. 

One  night,  when  I  was  just  six  years  old,  I  lay  awake  in 
the  nursery.  The  door  was  not  quite  shut,  and  the  Welsh 
nurse  was  sitting  sewing  in  the  next  room.  Suddenly  I 
heard  her  groan,  and  say  in  a  strange  voice,  "  One — two — 
one — two!"  I  was  frightened,  and  I  jumped  up  and  ran 
to  the  door,  barefooted  as  I  was. 

"  What  is  it,  Judith?"  I  cried,  clinging  to  her  skirts.  I 
can  remember  the  look  in  her  strange  dark  eyes  as  she  an- 
swered : 

"  One — two  leaden  coffins,  fallen  from  the  ceiling !  "  she 
crooned,  working  herself  in  her  chair.  "  One — two — a  light 
coffin  and  a  heavy  coffin,  falling  to  the  floor !  " 

Then  she  seemed  to  notice  me,  and  she  took  me  back  to 
bed  and  sang  me  to  sleep  with  a  queer  old  Welsh  song. 

I  do  not  know  how  it  was,  but  the  impression  got  hold 
of  me  that  she  had  meant  that  my  father  and  mother  were 
going  to  die  very  soon.  They  died  in  the  very  room  where 
she  had  been  sitting  that  night.  It  was  a  great  room,  my 
day  nursery,  full  of  sun  when  there  was  an}- ;  and  when 
the  days  were  dark  it  was  the  most  cheerful  place  in  the 
house.  My  mother  grew  rapidly  worse,  and  I  was  trans- 
ferred to  another  part  of  the  building  to  make  place  for  her. 
They  thought  my  nursery  was  gayer  for  her,  I  suppose ; 
but  she  could  not  live.  She  was  beautiful  when  she  was 
dead,  and  I  cried  bitterly. 

"  The  light  one,  the  light  one — the  heavy  one  to  come," 
crooned  the  Welshwoman.    And  she  was  right.    My  father 


American  Mystery  Stories 

took  the  room  after  my  mother  was  gone,  and  day  by  day 
he  grew  thinner  and  paler  and  sadder. 

"  The  heavy  one,  the  heavy  one — all  of  lead,"  moaned  my 
nurse,  one  night  in  December,  standing  still,  just  as  she  was 
going  to  take  away  the  light  after  putting  me  to  bed.  Then 
she  took  me  up  again  and  wrapped  me  in  a  little  gown,  and 
led  me  away  to  my  father's  room.  She  knocked,  but  no  one 
answered.  She  opened  the  door,  and  we  found  him  in  his 
easy  chair  before  the  fire,  very  white,  quite  dead. 

So  I  was  alone  with  the  Welshwoman  till  strange  people 
came,  and  relations  whom  I  had  never  seen ;  and  then  I 
heard  them  saying  that  I  must  be  taken  away  to  some  more 
cheerful  place.  They  were  kind  people,  and  I  will  not  be- 
lieve that  they  were  kind  only  because  I  was  to  be  very  rich 
when  I  grew  to  be  a  man.  The  world  never  seemed  to  be 
a  very  bad  place  to  me,  nor  all  the  people  to  be  miserable 
sinners,  even  when  I  was  most  melancholy,  I  do  not  re- 
member that  anyone  ever  did  me  any  great  injustice,  nor 
that  I  was  ever  oppressed  or  ill  treated  in  any  way,  even  by 
the  boys  at  school.  I  was  sad,  I  suppose,  because  my  child- 
hood was  so  gloomy,  and,  later,  because  I  was  unlucky  in 
everything  I  undertook,  till  I  finally  believed  I  was  pursued 
by  fate,  and  I  used  to  dream  that  the  old  Welsh  nurse  and 
the  Woman  of  the  Water  between  them  had  vowed  to  pursue 
me  to  my  end.  But  my  natural  disposition  should  have  been 
cheerful,  as  I  have  often  thought. 

Among  the  lads  of  my  age  I  was  never  last,  or  even 
among  the  last,  in  anything;  but  I  was  never  first.  If  I 
trained  for  a  race,  I  was  sure  to  sprain  my  ankle  on  the 
day  when  I  was  to  run.  If  I  pulled  an  oar  with  others, 
my  oar  was  sure  to  break.  If  I  competed  for  a  prize,  some 
unforeseen  accident  prevented  my  winning  it  at  the  last  mo- 
ment. Nothing  to  which  I  put  my  hand  succeeded,  and  I 
got  the  reputation  of  being  unlucky,  until  my  companions 
felt  it  was  always  safe  to  bet  against  me,  no  matter  what 
the  appearances  might  be.  I  became  discouraged  and  list- 
less in  everything.  I  gave  up  the  idea  of  competing  for  any 
distinction  at  the  University,  comforting  myself  with  the 


F.  Marion  Crawford 

thought  that  I  could  not  fail  in  the  examination  for  the  ordi- 
nary degree.  The  day  before  the  examination  began  I  fell 
ill ;  and  when  at  last  I  recovered,  after  a  narrow  escape 
from  death,  I  turned  my  back  upon  Oxford,  and  went  down 
alone  to  visit  the  old  place  where  I  had  been  born,  feeble  in 
health  and  profoundly  disgusted  and  discouraged.  I  was 
twenty-one  years  of  age,  master  of  myself  and  of  my  for- 
tune ;  but  so  deeply  had  the  long  chain  of  small  unlucky 
circumstances  affected  me  that  I  thought  seriously  of  shut- 
ting myself  up  from  the  world  to  live  the  life  of  a  hermit 
and  to  die  as  soon  as  possible.  Death  seemed  the  only 
cheerful  possibility  in  my  existence,  and  my  thoughts  soon 
dwelt  upon  it  altogether. 

I  had  never  shown  any  wish  to  return  to  my  own  home 
since  I  had  been  taken  away  as  a  little  boy,  and  no  one  had 
ever  pressed  me  to  do  so.  The  place  had  been  kept  in  order 
after  a  fashion,  and  did  not  seem  to  have  suffered  during 
the  fifteen  years  or  more  of  my  absence.  Nothing  earthly 
could  affect  those  old  gray  walls  that  had  fought  the  ele- 
ments for  so  many  centuries.  The  garden  was  more  wild 
than  I  remembered  it ;  the  marble  causeways  about  the  pools 
looked  more  yellow  and  damp  than  of  old,  and  the  whole 
place  at  first  looked  smaller.  It  was  not  until  I  had  wan- 
dered about  the  house  and  grounds  for  many  hours  that  I 
realized  the  huge  size  of  the  home  where  I  was  to  live  in 
solitude.  Then  I  began  to  delight  in  it,  and  my  resolution 
to  live  alone  grew  stronger. 

The  people  had  turned  out  to  welcome  me,  of  course,  and 
I  tried  to  recognize  the  changed  faces  of  the  old  gardener 
and  the  old  housekeeper,  and  to  call  them  by  name.  My 
old  nurse  I  knew  at  once.  She  had  grown  very  gray  since 
she  heard  the  coffins  fall  in  the  nursery  fifteen  years  before, 
but  her  strange  eyes  were  the  same,  and  the  look  in  them 
woke  all  my  old  memories.  She  went  over  the  house  with 

"  And  how  is  the  Woman  of  the  Water  ?  "  I  asked,  try- 
ing to  laugh  a  little.  "  Does  she  still  play  in  the  moon- 


American  Mystery  Stories 

"  She  is  hungry,"  answered  the  Welshwoman,  in  a  low 

"  Hungry?  Then  we  will  feed  her."  I  laughed.  But  old 
Judith  turned  very  pale,  and  looked  at  me  strangely. 

"Feed  her?  Aye — you  will  feed  her  well,"  she  mut- 
tered, glancing  behind  her  at  the  ancient  housekeeper,  who 
tottered  after  us  with  feeble  steps  through  the  halls  and 

I  did  not  think  much  of  her  words.  She  had  always 
talked  oddly,  as  Welshwomen  will,  and  though  I  was  very 
melancholy  I  am  sure  I  was  not  superstitious,  and  I  was 
certainly  not  timid.  Only,  as  in  a  far-off  dream,  I  seemed 
to  see  her  standing  with  the  light  in  her  hand  and  mut- 
tering, "  The  heavy  one — all  of  lead,"  and  then  leading  a 
little  boy  through  the  long  corridors  to  see  his  father  lying 
dead  in  a  great  easy  chair  before  a  smoldering  fire.  So  we 
w^ent  over  the  house,  and  I  chose  the  rooms  where  I  would 
live;  and  the  servants  I  had  brought  wdth  me  ordered  and 
arranged  everything,  and  I  had  no  more  trouble.  I  did  not 
care  what  they  did  provided  I  was  left  in  peace  and  was 
not  expected  to  give  directions ;  for  I  was  more  listless  than 
ever,  owing  to  the  effects  of  my  illness  at  college. 

I  dined  in  solitary  state,  and  the  melancholy  grandeur  of 
the  vast  old  dining-room  pleased  me.  Then  I  went  to  the 
room  I  had  selected  for  my  study,  and  sat  down  in  a  deep 
chair,  under  a  bright  light,  to  think,  or  to  let  my  thoughts 
meander  through  labyrinths  of  their  own  choosing,  utterly 
indifferent  to  the  course  they  might  take. 

The  tall  windows  of  the  room  opened  to  the  level  of  the 
ground  upon  the  terrace  at  the  head  of  the  garden.  It  was 
in  the  end  of  July,  and  everything  was  open,  for  the  weather 
was  warm.  As  I  sat  alone  I  heard  the  unceasing  splash  of 
the  great  fountains,  and  I  fell  to  thinking  of  the  Woman 
of  the  Water.  I  rose  and  went  out  into  the  still  night,  and 
sat  down  upon  a  seat  on  the  terrace,  between  two  gigantic 
Italian  flower  pots.  The  air  was  deliciously  soft  and  sweet 
with  the  smell  of  the  flowers,  and  the  garden  was  more 
congenial  to  me  than  the  house.     Sad  people  always  like 


F.  Marion  Craivford 

running  water  and  the  sound  of  it  at  night,  though  I  cannot 
tell  why.  I  sat  and  listened  in  the  gloom,  for  it  was  dark 
below,  and  the  pale  moon  had  not  yet  climbed  over  the  hills 
in  front  of  me,  though  all  the  air  above  was  light  with  her 
rising  beams.  Slowly  the  white  halo  in  the  eastern  sky 
ascended  in  an  arch  above  the  wooded  crests,  making  the 
outlines  of  the  mountains  more  intensely  black  by  contrast, 
as  though  the  head  of  some  great  white  saint  were  rising 
from  behind  a  screen  in  a  vast  cathedral,  throwing  misty 
glories  from  below.  I  longed  to  see  the  moon  herself,  and 
I  tried  to  reckon  the  seconds  before  she  must  appear.  Then 
she  sprang  up  quickly,  and  in  a  moment  more  hung  round 
and  perfect  in  the  sky.  I  gazed  at  her,  and  then  at  the 
floating  spray  of  the  tall  fountains,  and  down  at  the  pools, 
where  the  water  lilies  were  rocking  softly  in  their  sleep  on 
the  velvet  surface  of  the  moonlit  water.  Just  then  a  great 
swan  floated  out  silently  into  the  midst  of  the  basin,  and 
wreathed  his  long  neck,  catching  the  water  in  his  broad  bill, 
and  scattering  showers  of  diamonds  around  him. 

Suddenly,  as  I  gazed,  something  came  between  me  and 
the  light.  I  looked  up  instantly.  Between  me  and  the  round 
disk  of  the  moon  rose  a  luminous  face  of  a  woman,  with 
great  strange  eyes,  and  a  woman's  mouth,  full  and  soft,  but 
not  smiling,  hooded  in  black,  staring  at  me  as  I  sat  still 
upon  my  bench.  She  was  close  to  me — so  close  that  I  could 
have  touched  her  with  my  hand.  But  I  was  transfixed  and 
helpless.  She  stood  still  for  a  moment,  but  her  expression 
did  not  change.  Then  she  passed  swiftly  away,  and  my  hair 
stood  up  on  my  head,  while  the  cold  breeze  from  her  white 
dress  was  wafted  to  my  temples  as  she  moved.  The  moon- 
light, shining  through  the  tossing  spray  of  the  fountain, 
made  traceries  of  shadow  on  the  gleaming  folds  of  her  gar- 
ments.    In  an  instant  she  was  gone  and  I  was  alone. 

I  was  strangely  shaken  by  the  vision,  and  some  time 
passed  before  I  could  rise  to  my  feet,  for  I  was  still  weak 
from  my  illness,  and  the  sight  I  had  seen  would  have 
startled  anyone.  I  did  not  reason  with  myself,  for  I  was 
certain  that  I  had  looked  on  the  unearthly,  and  no  argu- 


Aim-rican  Mystery  Stories 

ment  could  have  destroyed  that  beHef.  At  last  I  got  up 
and  stood  unsteadily,  gazing  in  the  direction  in  which  I 
thought  the  face  had  gone ;  but  there  was  nothing  to  be  seen 
— nothing  but  the  broad  paths,  the  tall,  dark  evergreen 
hedges,  the  tossing  water  of  the  fountains  and  the  smooth 
pool  below.  I  fell  back  upon  the  seat  and  recalled  the  face 
I  had  seen.  Strange  to  say,  now  that  the  first  impression 
had  passed,  there  was  nothing  startling  in  the  recollection ; 
on  the  contrary,  I  felt  that  I  was  fascinated  by  the  face,  and 
would  give  anything  to  see  it  again.  I  could  retrace  the 
beautiful  straight  features,  the  long  dark  eyes,  and  the  won- 
derful mouth  most  exactly  in  my  mind,  and  when  I  had  re- 
constructed every  detail  from  memory  I  knew  that  the  whole 
was  beautiful,  and  that  I  should  love  a  woman  with  such  a 

"  I  wonder  whether  she  is  the  Woman  of  the  Water !  "  I 
said  to  myself.  Then  rising  once  more,  I  wandered  down 
the  garden,  descending  one  short  flight  of  steps  after  an- 
other from  terrace  to  terrace  by  the  edge  of  the  marble 
basins,  through  the  shadow  and  through  the  moonlight ;  and 
I  crossed  the  water  by  the  rustic  bridge  above  the  artificial 
grotto,  and  climbed  slowly  up  again  to  the  highest  terrace 
by  the  other  side.  The  air  seemed  sweeter,  and  I  was  very 
calm,  so  that  I  think  I  smiled  to  myself  as  I  walked,  as 
though  a  new  happiness  had  come  to  me.  The  woman's 
face  seemed  always  before  me,  and  the  thought  of  it  gave 
me  an  unwonted  thrill  of  pleasure,  unlike  anything  I  had 
ever  felt  before. 

I  turned  as  I  reached  the  house,  and  looked  back  upon 
the  scene.  It  had  certainly  changed  in  the  short  hour  since 
I  had  come  out,  and  my  mood  had  changed  with  it.  Just 
like  my  luck,  I  thought,  to  fall  in  love  with  a  ghost!  But 
in  old  times  I  would  have  sighed,  and  gone  to  bed  more 
sad  than  ever,  at  such  a  melancholy  conclusion.  To-night  I 
felt  happy,  almost  for  the  first  time  in  my  life.  The  gloomy 
old  study  seemed  cheerful  when  I  went  in.  The  old  pictures 
on  the  walls  smiled  at  me,  and  I  sat  down  in  my  deep  chair 
with  a  new  and  delightful  sensation  that  I  was  not  alone. 


F.  Marion  Crawford 

The  idea  of  having  seen  a  ghost,  and  of  feeling  much  the 
better  for  it,  was  so  absurd  that  I  laughed  softly,  as  I  took 
up  one  of  the  books  I  had  brought  with  me  and  began  to 

That  impression  did  not  wear  off.  I  slept  peacefully,  and 
in  the  morning  I  threw  open  my  windows  to  the  summer 
air  and  looked  down  at  the  garden,  at  the  stretches  of  green 
and  at  the  colored  flower-beds,  at  the  circling  swallows  and 
at  the  bright  water. 

"  A  man  might  make  a  paradise  of  this  place,"  I  ex- 
claimed.   "  A  man  and  a  woman  together !  " 

From  that  day  the  old  Castle  no  longer  seemed  gloomy, 
and  I  think  I  ceased  to  be  sad ;  for  some  time,  too,  I  began 
lo  take  an  interest  in  the  place,  and  to  try  and  make  it  more 
alive.  I  avoided  my  old  Welsh  nurse,  lest  she  should  damp 
my  humor  with  some  dismal  prophecy,  and  recall  my  old 
self  by  bringing  back  memories  of  my  dismal  childhood. 
But  what  I  thought  of  most  was  the  ghostly  figure  I  had 
seen  in  the  garden  that  first  night  after  my  arrival.  I  went 
out  every  evening  and  wandered  through  the  walks  and 
paths ;  but,  try  as  I  might,  I  did  not  see  my  vision  again. 
At  last,  after  many  days,  the  memory  grew  more  faint,  and 
my  old  moody  nature  gradually  overcame  the  temporary 
sense  of  lightness  I  had  experienced.  The  summer  turned 
to  autumn,  and  I  grew  restless.  It  began  to  rain.  The 
dampness  pervaded  the  gardens,  and  the  outer  halls  smelled 
musty,  like  tombs;  the  gray  sky  oppressed  me  intolerably. 
I  left  the  place  as  it  was  and  went  abroad,  determined  to  try 
anything  which  might  possibly  make  a  second  break  in  the 
monotonous  melancholy  from  which  I  suffered. 


Most  people  would  be  struck  by  the  utter  insignificance 
of  the  small  events  which,  after  the  death  of  my  parents, 
influenced  my  life  and  made  me  unhappy.  The  grewsome 
forebodings  of  a  Welsh  nurse,  which  chanced  to  be  realized 


American  Mystery  Stories 

by  an  odd  coincidence  of  events,  should  not  seem  enough  to 
change  the  nature  of  a  child  and  to  direct  the  bent  of  his 
character  in  after  years.  The  little  disappointments  of 
schoolboy  life,  and  the  somewhat  less  childish  ones  of  an 
uneventful  and  undistinguished  academic  career,  should  not 
have  sufficed  to  turn  me  out  at  one-and-twenty  years  of  age 
a  melancholic,  listless  idler.  Some  weakness  of  my  own 
character  may  have  contributed  to  the  result,  but  in  a  greater 
degree  it  was  due  to  my  having  a  reputation  for  bad  luck. 
However,  I  will  not  try  to  analyze  the  causes  of  my  state, 
for  I  should  satisfy  nobody,  least  of  all  myself.  Still  less 
will  I  attempt  to  explain  why  I  felt  a  temporary  revival  of 
my  spirits  after  my  adventure  in  the  garden.  It  is  certain 
that  I  was  in  love  with  the  face  I  had  seen,  and  that  I 
longed  to  see  it  again ;  that  I  gave  up  all  hope  of  a  second 
visitation,  grew  more  sad  than  ever,  packed  up  my  traps, 
and  finally  went  abroad.  But  in  my  dreams  I  went  back 
to  my  home,  and  it  ahvays  appeared  to  me  sunny  and  bright, 
as  it  had  looked  on  that  summer's  morning  after  I  had  seen 
the  woman  by  the  fountain. 

I  went  to  Paris.  I  went  farther,  and  wandered  about 
Germany.  I  tried  to  amuse  myself,  and  I  failed  miserably. 
With  the  aimless  whims  of  an  idle  and  useless  man  come  all 
sorts  of  suggestions  for  good  resolutions.  One  day  I  made 
up  my  mind  that  I  would  go  and  bury  myself  in  a  German 
university  for  a  time,  and  live  simply  like  a  poor  student.  I 
started  with  the  intention  of  going  to  Leipzig,  determined 
to  stay  there  until  some  event  should  direct  my  life  or 
change  my  humor,  or  make  an  end  of  me  altogether.  The 
express  train  stopped  at  some  station  of  which  I  did  not 
know  the  name.  It  was  dusk  on  a  winter's  afternoon,  and 
I  peered  through  the  thick  glass  .from  my  seat.  Suddenly 
another  train  came  gliding  in  from  the  opposite  direction, 
and  stopped  alongside  of  ours.  I  looked  at  the  carriage 
which  chanced  to  be  abreast  of  mine,  and  idly  read  the  black 
letters  painted  on  a  white  board  swinging  from  the  brass 
handrail:  Berlin — Cologne — Paris.  Then  I  looked  up  at 
the  window  above.     I  started  violently,  and  the  cold  per- 


F.   Marion   Crcnvford 

spiration  broke  out  upon  my  forehead.  In  the  dim  h'ght, 
not  six  feet  from  where  I  sat,  I  saw  the  face  of  a  woman, 
the  face  I  loved,  the  straight,  fine  features,  the  strange  eyes, 
the  wonderful  mouth,  the  pale  skin.  Her  head-dress  was  a 
dark  veil  which  seemed  to  be  tied  about  her  head  and  passed 
over  the  shoulders  under  her  chin.  As  I  threw  down  the 
window  and  knelt  on  the  cushioned  seat,  leaning  far  out  to 
get  a  better  view,  a  long  whistle  screamed  through  the  sta- 
tion, followed  by  a  quick  series  of  dull,  clanking  sounds; 
then  there  was  a  slight  jerk,  and  my  train  moved  on.  Luck- 
ily the  window  was  narrow,  being  the  one  over  the  seat, 
beside  the  door,  or  I  believe  I  would  have  jumped  out  of  it 
then  and  there.  In  an  instant  the  speed  increased,  and  I 
was  being  carried  swiftly  away  in  the  opposite  direction 
from  the  thing  I  loved. 

For  a  quarter  of  an  hour  I  lay  back  in  my  place,  stunned 
by  the  suddenness  of  the  apparition.  At  last  one  of  the  two 
other  passengers,  a  large  and  gorgeous  captain  of  the  White 
Konigsberg  Cuirassiers,  civilly  but  firmly  suggested  that  I 
might  shut  my  window,  as  the  evening  was  cold.  I  did  so, 
with  an  apology,  and  relapsed  into  silence.  The  train  ran 
swiftly  on  for  a  long  time,  and  it  was  already  beginning  to 
slacken  speed  before  entering  another  station,  when  I  roused 
myself  and  made  a  sudden  resolution.  As  the  carriage 
stopped  before  the  brilliantly  lighted  platform,  I  seized  my 
belongings,  saluted  my  fellow-passengers,  and  got  out,  de- 
termined to  take  the  first  express  back  to  Paris. 

This  time  the  circumstances  of  the  vision  had  been  so 
natural  that  it  did  not  strike  me  that  there  was  anything 
unreal  about  the  face,  or  about  the  woman  to  whom  it  be- 
longed. I  did  not  try  to  explain  to  myself  how  the  face, 
and  the  woman,  could  be  traveling  by  a  fast  train  from  Ber- 
lin to  Paris  on  a  winter's  afternoon,  w^hen  both  were  in  my 
mind  indelibly  associated  with  the  moonlight  and  the  foun- 
tains in  my  own  English  home.  I  certainly  would  not  have 
admitted  that  I  had  been  mistaken  in  the  dusk,  attributing 
to  what  I  had  seen  a  resemblance  to  my  former  vision  which 
did  not  really  exist.     There  was  not  the  slightest  doubt  in 


American  Mystery  Stories 

my  mind,  and  I  was  positively  sure  that  I  had  again  seen 
the  face  I  loved.  I  did  not  hesitate,  and  in  a  few  hours  I 
was  on  my  way  back  to  Paris.  I  could  not  help  reflectir.j^ 
on  my  ill  luck.  Wandering  as  I  had  been  for  many  months, 
it  might  as  easily  have  chanced  that  I  should  be  traveling  in 
the  same  train  with  that  woman,  instead  of  going  the  other 
way.     But  my  luck  was  destined  to  turn  for  a  time. 

I  searched  Paris  for  several  days.  I  dined  at  the  prin- 
cipal hotels ;  I  went  to  the  theaters ;  I  rode  in  the  Bois  de 
Boulogne  in  the  morning,  and  picked  up  an  acquaintance, 
whom  I  forced  to  drive  with  me  in  the  afternoon.  I  went 
to  mass  at  the  Madeleine,  and  I  attended  the  services  at  the 
English  Church.  I  hung  about  the  Louvre  and  Notre  Dame. 
I  went  to  Versailles.  I  spent  hours  in  parading  the  Rue  de 
Rivoli,  in  the  neighborhood  of  Meurice's  corner,  where 
foreigners  pass  and  repass  from  morning  till  night.  At  last 
I  received  an  invitation  to  a  reception  at  the  English  Em- 
bassy.   I  went,  and  I  found  what  I  had  sought  so  long. 

There  she  was,  sitting  by  an  old  lady  in  gray  satin  and 
diamonds,  who  had  a  wrinkled  but  kindly  face  and  keen 
gray  eyes  that  seemed  to  take  in  everything  they  saw,  with 
very  little  inclination  to  give  much  in  return.  But  I  did  not 
notice  the  chaperon.  I  saw  only  the  face  that  had  haunted 
me  for  months,  and  in  the  excitement  of  the  moment  I 
walked  quickly  toward  the  pair,  forgetting  such  a  trifle  as 
the  necessity  for  an  introduction. 

She  was  far  more  beautiful  than  I  had  thought,  but  I 
never  doubted  that  it  was  she  herself  and  no  other.  Vision 
or  no  vision  before,  this  was  the  reality,  and  I  knew  it. 
Twice  her  hair  had  been  covered,  now  at  last  I  saw  it,  and 
the  added  beauty  of  its  magnificence  glorified  the  whole 
woman.  It  was  rich  hair,  fine  and  abundant,  golden,  with 
deep  ruddy  tints  in  it  like  red  bronze  spun  fine.  There  was 
no  ornament  in  it,  not  a  rose,  not  a  thread  of  gold,  and  I 
felt  that  it  needed  nothing  to  enhance  its  splendor ;  nothing 
but  her  pale  face,  her  dark  strange  eyes,  and  her  heavy  eye- 
brows. I  could  see  that  she  was  slender  too,  but  strong 
withal,  as  she  sat  there  quietly  gazing  at  the  moving  scene 


F.  Marion  Crazvford 

in  the  midst  of  the  brilHant  lights  and  the  hum  of  perpetual 

I  recollected  the  detail  of  introduction  in  time,  and  turned 
aside  to  look  for  my  host.  I  found  him  at  last.  I  begged 
him  to  present  me  to  the  two  ladies,  pointing  them  out  to 
him  at  the  same  time. 

"  Yes — uh — by  all  means — uh,"  replied  his  Excellency 
with  a  pleasant  smile.  He  evidently  had  no  idea  of  my 
name,  which  was  not  to  be  wondered  at. 

"  I  am  Lord  Cairngorm,"  I  observed. 

"  Oh — by  all  means,"  answered  the  Ambassador  with  the 
same  hospitable  smile.  "  Yes — uh — the  fact  is,  I  must  try 
and  find  out  who  they  are ;  such  lots  of  people,  you  know." 

"  Oh,  if  you  will  present  me,  I  will  try  and  find  out  for 
you,"  said  I,  laughing. 

"  Ah,  yes — so  kind  of  you — come  along,"  said  my  host. 
We  threaded  the  crowd,  and  in  a  few  minutes  we  stood  be- 
fore the  two  ladies. 

"  'Lowmintrduce  L'd  Cairngorm,"  he  said ;  then,  adding 
quickly  to  me,  "  Come  and  dine  to-morrow,  won't  you?  "  he 
glided  away  with  his  pleasant  smile  and  disappeared  in  the 

I  sat  down  beside  the  beautiful  girl,  conscious  that  the 
eyes  of  the  duenna  were  upon  me, 

"  I  think  we  have  been  very  near  meeting  before,"  I  re- 
marked, by  way  of  opening  the  conversation. 

My  companion  turned  her  eyes  full  upon  me  with  an  air 
of  inquiry.  She  evidently  did  not  recall  my  face,  if  she  had 
ever  seen  me. 

"  Really — I  cannot  remember,"  she  observed,  in  a  low  and 
musical  voice.    "  When  ?  " 

"  In  the  first  place,  you  came  down  from  Berlin  by  the 
express  ten  days  ago.  I  was  going  the  other  way,  and  our 
carriages  stopped  opposite  each  other.  I  saw  you  at  the 

"  Yes — we  came  that  way,  but  I  do  not  remember " 

She  hesitated. 

"  Secondly,"  I  continued,  "  I  was  sitting  alone  in  my  gar- 


American  Mystery  Stories 

den  last  summer — near  the  end  of  July — do  you  remember? 
You  must  have  wandered  in  there  through  the  park;  you 
came  up  to  the  house  and  looked  at  me " 

"Was  that  you?"  she  asked,  in  evident  surprise.  Then 
she  broke  into  a  laugh.  "  I  told  everybody  I  had  seen  a 
ghost ;  there  had  never  been  any  Cairngorms  in  the  place 
since  the  memory  of  man.  V/e  left  the  next  day,  and  never 
heard  that  you  had  come  there ;  indeed,  I  did  not  know  the 
castle  belonged  to  you." 

"  Where  were  you  staying?  "  I  asked. 

"  Where  ?  Why,  v/ith  my  aunt,  where  I  always  stay. 
She  is  your  neighbor,  since  it  is  you." 

"  I — beg  your  pardon — but  then — is  your  aunt  Lady  Blue- 
bell ?    I  did  not  quite  catch " 

"  Don't  be  afraid.  She  is  amazingly  deaf.  Yes.  She  is 
the  relict  of  my  beloved  uncle,  the  sixteenth  or  seventeenth 
Baron  Bluebell — I  forget  exactly  how  many  of  them  there 
have  been.  And  I — do  you  know  who  I  am  ?  "  She  laughed, 
well  knowing  that  I  did  not. 

"  No,"  I  answered  frankly,  "  I  have  not  the  least  idea. 
I  asked  to  be  introduced  because  I  recognized  you.  Per- 
haps— perhaps  you  are  a  Miss  Bluebell  ?  " 

"  Considering  that  you  are  a  neighbor,  I  will  tell  you 
who  I  am,"  she  answered.  "  No ;  I  am  of  the  tribe  of  Blue- 
bells, but  my  name  is  Lammas,  and  I  have  been  given  to 
understand  that  I  was  christened  Margaret.  Being  a  floral 
family,  they  call  me  Daisy.  A  dreadful  American  man  once 
told  me  that  my  aunt  Vv'as  a  Bluebell  and  that  I  was  a 
Harebell — with  two  I's  and  an  e — because  my  hair  is  so 
thick.  I  warn  you,  so  that  you  may  avoid  making  such 
a  bad  pun." 

"  Do  I  look  like  a  man  who  makes  puns  ?  "  I  asked,  being 
very  conscious  of  my  melancholy  face  and  sad  looks. 

Miss  Lammas  eyed  me  critically. 

"  No ;  you  have  a  mournful  temperament.  I  think  I  can 
trust  you,"  she  answered.  "  Do  you  think  you  could  com- 
municate to  my  aunt  the  fact  that  you  are  a  Cairngorm  and 

a  neighbor?    I  am  sure  she  would  like  to  know, 



F.  Marion  Cratvford 

I  leaned  toward  the  old  lady,  inflating  my  lungs  for  a 
yell.     But  Miss  Lammas  stopped  me. 

"  That  is  not  of  the  slightest  use,"  she  remarked.  "  You 
can  write  it  on  a  bit  of  paper.    She  is  utterly  deaf." 

"  I  have  a  pencil,"  I  answered ;  "  but  I  have  no  paper. 
Would  my  cuff  do,  do  you  think?  " 

"  Oh,  yes !  "  replied  Miss  Lammas,  with  alacrity ;  "  men 
often  do  that." 

I  wrote  on  my  cuff :  "  Miss  Lammas  wishes  me  to  explain 
that  I  am  your  neighbor,  Cairngorm."  Then  I  held  out  my 
arm  before  the  old  lady's  nose.  She  seemed  perfectly  accus- 
tomed to  the  proceeding,  put  up  her  glasses,  read  the  words, 
smiled,  nodded,  and  addressed  me  in  the  unearthly  voice 
peculiar  to  people  who  hear  nothing. 

"  I  knew  your  grandfather  very  well,"  she  said.  Then 
she  smiled  and  nodded  to  me  again,  and  to  her  niece,  and 
relapsed  into  silence. 

"  It  is  all  right,"  remarked  Miss  Lammas.  "  Aunt  Blue- 
bell knows  she  is  deaf,  and  does  not  say  much,  like  the  par- 
rot. You  see,  she  knew  your  grandfather.  How  odd  that 
we  should  be  neighbors  !    Why  have  we  never  met  before  ?  " 

"  If  you  had  told  me  you  knew  my  grandfather  when  you 
appeared  in  the  garden,  I  should  not  have  been  in  the  least 
surprised,"  I  answered  rather  irrelevantly.  "  I  really 
thought  you  were  the  ghost  of  the  old  fountain.  How  in 
the  world  did  you  come  there  at  that  hour  ?  " 

"  We  were  a  large  party  and  we  went  out  for  a  walk. 
Then  we  thought  we  should  like  to  see  w^hat  your  park  was 
like  in  the  moonlight,  and  so  we  trespassed.  I  got  separated 
from  the  rest,  and  came  upon  you  by  accident,  just  as  I  was 
admiring  the  extremely  ghostly  look  of  your  house,  and 
wondering  whether  anybody  would  ever  come  and  live  there 
again.  It  looks  like  the  castle  of  Macbeth,  or  a  scene  from 
the  opera.    Do  you  know  anybody  here  ?  " 

"  Hardly  a  soul !    Do  you?  " 

"  No.  Aunt  Bluebell  said  it  was  our  dutv  to  come.  It  is 
easy  for  her  to  go  out ;  she  does  not  bear  the  burden  of  the 


American  Mystery  Stories 

"  I  am  sorry  you  find  it  a  burden,"  said  I.  "  Shall  I  go 
away  ?  " 

Miss  Lammas  looked  at  me  with  a  sudden  gravity  in  her 
beautiful  eyes,  and  there  was  a  sort  of  hesitation  about  the 
lines  of  her  full,  soft  mouth. 

"  No,"  she  said  at  last,  quite  simply,  "  don't  go  away. 
We  may  like  each  other,  if  you  stay  a  little  longer — and  we 
ought  to,  because  we  are  neighbors  in  the  country." 

I  suppose  I  ought  to  have  thought  Miss  Lammas  a  very 
odd  girl.  There  is,  indeed,  a  sort  of  freemasonry  between 
people  who  discover  that  they  live  near  each  other  and  that 
they  ought  to  have  known  each  other  before.  But  there  was 
a  sort  of  unexpected  frankness  and  simplicity  in  the  girl's 
amusing  manner  which  would  have  struck  anyone  else  as 
being  singular,  to  say  the  least  of  it.  To  me,  however,  it  all 
seemed  natural  enough.  I  had  dreamed  of  her  face  too  long 
not  to  be  utterly  happy  when  I  met  her  at  last  and  could 
talk  to  her  as  much  as  I  pleased.  To  me,  the  man  of  ill  luck 
in  everything,  the  whole  meeting  seemed  too  good  to  be 
true.  I  felt  again  that  strange  sensation  of  lightness  which 
I  had  experienced  after  I  had  seen  her  face  in  the  garden. 
The  great  rooms  seemed  brighter,  life  seemed  worth  living ; 
my  sluggish,  melancholy  blood  ran  faster,  and  filled  me  with 
a  new  sense  of  strength.  I  said  to  myself  that  without  this 
woman  I  was  but  an  imperfect  being,  but  that  with  her  I 
could  accomplish  everything  to  which  I  should  set  my  hand. 
Like  the  great  Doctor,  when  he  thought  he  had  cheated 
Mephistopheles  at  last,  I  could  have  cried  aloud  to  the  fleet- 
ing moment,  Verweile  dock,  du  hist  so  sch'dn! 

"  Are  you  always  gay  ? "  I  asked,  suddenly,  "  How 
happy  you  must  be !  " 

"  The  days  would  sometimes  seem  very  long  if  I  were 
gloomy,"  she  answered,  thoughtfully.  "  Yes,  I  think  I  find 
life  very  pleasant,  and  I  tell  it  so." 

"  How  can  you  '  tell  life  '  anything?  "  I  inquired.  "  If  I 
could  catch  my  life  and  talk  to  it,  I  would  abuse  it  pro- 
digiously, I  assure  you." 

"  I  dare  say.    You  have  a  melancholv  temper.    You  ought 


F.  Marion  Crawford 

to  live  out-of-doors,  dig  potatoes,  make  hay,  shoot,  hunt, 
tumble  into  ditches,  and  come  home  muddy  and  hungry  for 
dinner.  It  would  be  much  better  for  you  than  moping  in 
your  rook  tower  and  hating  everything." 

"  It  is  rather  lonely  down  there,"  I  murmured,  apolo- 
getically, feeling  that  Miss  Lammas  was  quite  right. 

"  Then  marry,  and  quarrel  with  your  wife,"  she  laughed, 
"  Anything  is  better  than  being  alone." 

"  I  am  a  very  peaceable  person.  I  never  quarrel  with  any- 
body.    You  can  try  it.    You  will  find  it  quite  impossible." 

"  Will  you  let  me  try  ?  "  she  asked,  still  smiling. 

"  By  all  means — especially  if  it  is  to  be  only  a  preliminary 
canter,"  I  answered,  rashly. 

"  What  do  you  mean  ?  "  she  inquired,  turning  quickly 
upon  me. 

"  Oh — nothing.  You  might  try  my  paces  with  a  view  to 
quarreling  in  the  future.  I  cannot  imagine  how  you  are 
going  to  do  it.  You  will  have  to  resort  to  immediate  and 
direct  abuse." 

"  No.  I  will  only  say  that  if  you  do  not  like  your  life,  it 
is  your  own  fault.  How  can  a  man  of  your  age  talk  of 
being  melancholy,  or  of  the  hollowness  of  existence?  Are 
you  consumptive?  Are  you  subject  to  hereditary  insanity? 
Are  you  deaf,  like  Aunt  Bluebell?  Are  you  poor,  like — 
lots  of  people?  Have  you  been  crossed  in  love?  Have  you 
lost  the  world  for  a  woman,  or  any  particular  woman  for 
the  sake  of  the  world  ?  Are  you  feeble-minded,  a  cripple,  an 
outcast  ?  Are  you — repulsively  ugly  ?  "  She  laughed  again. 
"  Is  there  any  reason  in  the  world  why  you  should  not  enjoy 
all  you  have  got  in  life  ?  " 

*'  No.  There  is  no  reason  whatever,  except  that  I  am 
dreadfully  unlucky,  especially  in  small  things." 

"  Then  try  big  things,  just  for  a  change,"  suggested  Miss 
Lammas.  "  Try  and  get  married,  for  instance,  and  see  how 
it  turns  out." 

"  If  it  turned  out  badly  it  would  be  rather  serious." 

"  Not  half  so  serious  as  it  is  to  abuse  everything  unreason- 
ably.    If  abuse  is  your  particular  talent,  abuse  something 


American  Mystery  Stories 

that  ought  to  be  abused.  Abuse  the  Conservatives — or  the 
Liberals — it  does  not  matter  which,  since  they  are  always 
abusing  each  other.  Make  yourself  felt  by  other  people. 
You  will  like  it,  if  they  don't.  It  will  make  a  man  of  you. 
Fill  your  mo;ith  W'ith  pebbles,  and  howl  at  the  sea,  if  you 
cannot  do  anything  else.  It  did  Demosthenes  no  end  of 
good,  you  know.  You  will  have  the  satisfaction  of  imitating 
a  great  man." 

"  Really,  Miss  Lammas,  I  think  the  list  of  innocent  exer- 
cises you  propose " 

"  Very  well — if  you  don't  care  for  that  sort  of  thing,  care 
for  some  other  sort  of  thing.  Care  for  something,  or  hate 
something.  Don't  be  idle.  Life  is  short,  and  though  art 
may  be  long,  plenty  of  noise  answers  nearly  as  well." 

"  I  do  care  for  something — I  mean,  somebody,"  I  said. 

"A  woman?    Then  marry  her.    Don't  hesitate." 

"  I  do  not  know  whether  she  would  marry  me,"  I  replied. 
"  I  have  never  asked  her." 

"  Then  ask  her  at  once,"  answered  Miss  Lammas.  "  I 
shall  die  happy  if  I  feel  I  have  persuaded  a  melancholy  fel- 
low creature  to  rouse  himself  to  action.  Ask  her,  by  all 
means,  and  see  what  she  says.  If  she  does  not  accept  you 
at  once,  she  may  take  you  the  next  time.  Meanwhile,  you 
will  have  entered  for  the  race.  If  you  lose,  there  are  the 
*  All-aged  Trial  Stakes,'  and  the  '  Consolation  Race.'  " 

"  And  plenty  of  selling  races  into  the  bargain.  Shall  I 
take  you  at  your  word.  Miss  Lammas  ?  " 

"  I  hope  you  will,"  she  answered. 

"  Since  you  yourself  advise  me,  I  will.  }kliss  Lammas, 
will  you  do  me  the  honor  to  marry  me  ?  " 

For  the  first  time  in  my  life  the  blood  rushed  to  my  head 
and  my  sight  swam.  I  cannot  tell  why  I  said  it.  It  would 
be  useless  to  try  to  explain  the  extraordinary  fascination  the 
girl  exercised  over  me,  or  the  still  more  extraordinary  feel- 
ing of  intimacy  with  her  which  had  grown  in  me  during  that 
half  hour.  Lonely,  sad,  unlucky  as  I  had  been  all  my  life, 
I  was  certainly  not  timid,  nor  even  shy.  But  to  propose  to 
marry  a  woman  after  half  an  hour's  acquaintance  was  a 


F.  Marion  Crawford 

piece  of  madness  of  which  I  never  beheved  myself  capable, 
and  of  which  I  should  never  be  capable  again,  could  I  be 
placed  in  the  same  situation.  It  was  as  though  my  whole 
being  had  been  changed  in  a  moment  by  magic — by  the  white 
magic  of  her  nature  brought  into  contact  with  mine.  The 
blood  sank  back  to  my  heart,  and  a  moment  later  I  found 
myself  staring  at  her  with  anxious  eyes.  To  my  amaze- 
ment she  was  as  calm  as  ever,  but  her  beautiful  mouth 
smiled,  and  there  was  a  mischievous  light  in  her  dark- 
brown  eyes. 

"  Fairly  caught,"  she  answered.  "  For  an  individual  who 
pretends  to  be  listless  and  sad  you  are  not  lacking  in  humor. 
I  had  really  not  the  least  idea  what  you  were  going  to  say. 
Wouldn't  it  be  singularly  awkward  for  you  if  I  had  said 
'  Yes  '  ?  I  never  saw  anybody  begin  to  practice  so  sharply 
Vvdiat  was  preached  to  him — with  so  very  little  loss  of  time  1  " 

"  You  probably  never  met  a  man  who  had  dreamed  of  you 
for  seven  months  before  being  introduced." 

"  No,  I  never  did,"  she  answered  gayly.  "  It  smacks  of 
the  romantic.  Perhaps  you  are  a  romantic  character,  after 
all.  I  should  think  you  were  if  I  believed  you.  Very  well ; 
you  have  taken  my  advice,  entered  for  a  Stranger's  Race  and 
lost  it.  Try  the  All-aged  Trial  Stakes.  You  have  another 
cuff,  and  a  pencil.  Propose  to  Aunt  Bluebell;  she  would 
dance  with  astonishment,  and  she  might  recover  her 


That  was  how  I  first  asked  Margaret  Lammas  to  be  my 
wife,  and  I  will  agree  with  anyone  who  says  I  behaved  very 
fooHshly.  But  I  have  not  repented  of  it,  and  I  never  shall. 
I  have  long  ago  understood  that  I  was  out  of  my  mind  that 
evening,  but  I  think  my  temporary  insanity  on  that  occasion 
has  had  the  effect  of  making  me  a  saner  man  ever  since. 
Her  manner  turned  my  head,  for  it  was  so  different  from 
what  I  had  expected.     To  hear  this  lovely  creature,  who, 


American  Mystery  Stories 

in  my  imagination,  was  a  heroine  of  romance,  if  not  of 
tragedy,  talking  familiarly  and  laughing  readily  was  more 
than  my  equanimity  could  bear,  and  I  lost  my  head  as  well 
as  my  heart.  But  when  I  went  back  to  England  in  the 
spring,  I  went  to  make  certain  arrangements  at  the  Castle 
— certain  changes  and  improvements  which  would  be  abso- 
lutely necessary.  I  had  won  the  race  for  which  I  had 
entered  myself  so  rashly,  and  we  were  to  be  married  in 

Whether  the  change  was  due  to  the  orders  I  had  left  with 
the  gardener  and  the  rest  of  the  servants,  or  to  my  own  state 
of  mind,  I  cannot  tell.  At  all  events,  the  old  place  did  not 
look  the  same  to  me  when  I  opened  my  window  on  the  morn- 
ing after  my  arrival.  There  were  the  gray  walls  below  me 
and  the  gray  turrets  flanking  the  huge  building ;  there  w^ere 
the  fountains,  the  marble  causeways,  the  smooth  basins,  the 
tall  box  hedges,  the  water  lilies  and  the  swans,  just  as  of 
old.  But  there  was  something  else  there,  too — something  in 
the  air,  in  the  water,  and  in  the  greenness  that  I  did  not 
recognize — a  light  over  everything  by  which  everything  was 
transfigured.  The  clock  in  the  tower  struck  seven,  and  the 
strokes  of  the  ancient  bell  sounded  like  a  wedding  chime. 
The  air  sang  with  the  thrilling  treble  of  the  song-birds,  with 
the  silvery  music  of  the  plashing  water  and  the  softer  har- 
mony of  the  leaves  stirred  by  the  fresh  morning  wind. 
There  was  a  smell  of  new-mown  hay  from  the  distant 
meadows,  and  of  blooming  roses  from  the  beds  below, 
wafted  up  together  to  my  window.  I  stood  in  the  pure  sun- 
shine and  drank  the  air  and  all  the  sounds  and  the  odors 
that  were  in  it ;  and  I  looked  down  at  my  garden  and  said : 
"  It  is  Paradise,  after  all."  I  think  the  men  of  old  were 
right  when  they  called  heaven  a  garden,  and  Eden  a  garden 
inhabited  by  one  man  and  one  woman,  the  Earthly  Paradise. 

I  turned  away,  wondering  what  had  become  of  the  gloomy 
memories  I  had  always  associated  with  my  home.  I  tried 
to  recall  the  impression  of  my  nurse's  horrible  prophecy  be- 
fore the  death  of  my  parents — an  impression  which  hitherto 
had  been  vivid  enough.     I  tried  to  remember  my  old  self, 


F.  Marion  Crawford 

my  dejection,  my  Hstlessness,  my  bad  luck,  my  petty  disap- 
pointments. I  endeavored  to  force  myself  to  think  as  I  used 
to  think,  if  only  to  satisfy  myself  that  I  had  not  lost  my 
individuality.  But  I  succeeded  in  none  of  these  efforts.  I 
was  a  different  man,  a  changed  being,  incapable  of  sorrow, 
of  ill  luck,  or  of  sadness.  My  life  had  been  a  dream,  not 
evil,  but  infinitely  gloomy  and  hopeless.  It  was  now  a 
reality,  full  of  hope,  gladness,  and  all  manner  of  good.  My 
home  had  been  like  a  tomb ;  to-day  it  was  Paradise.  My 
heart  had  been  as  though  it  had  not  existed ;  to-day  it  beat 
with  strength  and  youth  and  the  certainty  of  realized  hap- 
piness. I  reveled  in  the  beauty  of  the  world,  and  called 
loveliness  out  of  the  future  to  enjoy  it  before  time  should 
bring  it  to  me,  as  a  traveler  in  the  plains  looks  up  to  the 
mountains,  and  already  tastes  the  cool  air  through  the  dust 
of  the  road. 

Here,  I  thought,  we  will  live  and  live  for  years.  There 
we  will  sit  by  the  fountain  toward  evening  and  in  the  deep 
moonlight.  Down  those  paths  we  will  wander  together.  On 
those  benches  we  will  rest  and  talk.  Among  those  eastern 
hills  we  will  ride  through  the  soft  twilight,  and  in  the  old 
house  we  will  tell  tales  on  winter  nights,  when  the  logs  burn 
high,  and  the  holly  berries  are  red,  and  the  old  clock  tolls 
out  the  dying  year.  On  these  old  steps,  in  these  dark  pas- 
sages and  stately  rooms,  there  will  one  day  be  the  sound  of 
little  pattering  feet,  and  laughing  child  voices  will  ring  up 
to  the  vaults  of  the  ancient  hall.  Those  tiny  footsteps  shall 
not  be  slow  and  sad  as  mine  were,  nor  shall  the  childish 
words  be  spoken  in  an  awed  whisper.  No  gloomy  Welsh- 
woman shall  people  the  dusky  corners  with  weird  horrors, 
nor  utter  horrid  prophecies  of  death  and  ghastly  things.  All 
shall  be  young,  and  fresh,  and  joyful,  and  happy,  and  we 
will  turn  the  old  luck  again,  and  forget  that  there  was  ever 
any  sadness. 

So  I  thought,  as  I  looked  out  of  my  window  that  morn- 
ing and  for  many  mornings  after  that,  and  every  day  it  all 
seemed  more  real  than  ever  before,  and  much  nearer.  But 
the  old  nurse  looked  at  me  askance,  and  muttered  odd  say- 


American  Mystery  Stories 

ings  about  the  Woman  of  the  Water.  I  cared  little  what 
she  said,  for  I  was  far  too  happy. 

At  last  the  time  came  near  for  the  wedding.  Lady  Blue- 
bell and  all  the  tribe  of  Bluebells,  as  Margaret  called  them, 
were  at  Bluebell  Grange,  for  we  had  determined  to  be  mar- 
ried in  the  country,  and  to  come  straight  to  the  Castle  after- 
wards. We  cared  little  for  traveling,  and  not  at  all  for  a 
crowded  ceremony  at  St.  George's  in  Hanover  Square,  with 
all  the  tiresome  formalities  afterwards.  I  used  to  ride  over 
to  the  Grange  every  day,  and  very  often  Margaret  would 
come  with  her  aunt  and  some  of  her  cousins  to  the  Castle. 
I  was  suspicious  of  my  own  taste,  and  was  only  too  glad 
to  let  her  have  her  way  about  the  alterations  and  improve- 
ments in  our  home. 

We  were  to  be  married  on  the  thirtieth  of  July,  and  on 
the  evening  of  the  twenty-eighth  Margaret  drove  over  with 
some  of  the  Bluebell  party.  In  the  long  summer  twiHght 
we  all  went  out  into  the  garden.  Naturally  enough,  Mar- 
garet and  I  were  left  to  ourselves,  and  we  wandered  down 
by  the  marble  basins. 

"  It  is  an  odd  coincidence,"  I  said ;  "  it  was  on  this  very 
night  last  year  that  I  first  saw  you." 

"  Considering  that  it  is  the  month  of  July,"  answered  Mar- 
garet with  a  laugh,  "  and  that  we  have  been  here  almost 
every  dav,  I  don't  think  the  coincidence  is  so  extraordinary, 
after  all." 

"  No,  dear,"  said  I,  "  I  suppose  not.  I  don't  know  why 
it  struck  me.  We  shall  very  likely  be  here  a  year  from  to- 
day, and  a  year  from  that.  The  odd  thing,  when  I  think  of 
it,  is  that  you  should  be  here  at  all.  But  my  luck  has  turned. 
I  ought  not  to  think  anything  odd  that  happens  now  that  I 
have  you.    It  is  all  sure  to  be  good." 

"  A  slight  change  in  your  ideas  since  that  remarkable  per- 
formance of  yours  in  Paris,"  said  Margaret.  "  Do  you 
know,  I  thought  you  were  the  most  extraordinary  man  I 
had  ever  met." 

"  I  thought  you  were  the  most  charming  woman  I  had 
ever  seen.     I  naturally  did  not  want  to  lose  any  time  in 


F.  Marion  Crazvford 

frivolities.  I  took  you  at  your  word,  I  followed  your  ad- 
vice, I  asked  you  to  marry  me,  and  this  is  the  delightful 
result — what's  the  matter  ?  " 

Margaret  had  started  suddenly,  and  her  hand  tightened 
on  my  arm.  An  old  woman  was  coming  up  the  path,  and 
was  close  to  us  before  we  saw  her,  for  the  moon  had  risen, 
and  was  shining  full  in  our  faces.  The  woman  turned  out 
to  be  my  old  nurse. 

"  It's  only  Judith,  dear — don't  be  frightened,"  I  said. 
Then  I  spoke  to  the  Welshwoman :  "  What  are  you  about, 
Judith  ?    Have  you  been  feeding  the  Woman  of  the  Water  ?  " 

"  Aye — when  the  clock  strikes,  Willie — my  Lord,  I  mean," 
muttered  the  old  creature,  drawing  aside  to  let  us  pass,  and 
fixing  her  strange  eyes  on  Margaret's  face. 

"  What  does  she  mean  ?  "  asked  Margaret,  when  we  had 
gone  by. 

"  Nothing,  darling.  The  old  thing  is  mildly  crazy,  but 
she  is  a  good  soul." 

We  went  on  in  silence  for  a  few  moments,  and  came  to 
the  rustic  bridge  just  above  the  artificial  grotto  through 
which  the  water  ran  out  into  the  park,  dark  and  swift  in  its 
narrow  channel.  We  stopped,  and  leaned  on  the  wooden 
rail.  The  moon  was  now  behind  us,  and  shone  full  upon 
the  long  vista  of  basins  and  on  the  huge  walls  and  towers 
of  the  Castle  above. 

"  How  proud  you  ought  to  be  of  such  a  grand  old  place !  " 
said  Margaret,  softly. 

"  It  is  yours  now,  darling,"  I  answered.  "  You  have  as 
good  a  right  to  love  it  as  I — but  I  only  love  it  because  you 
are  to  live  in  it,  dear." 

Her  hand  stole  out  and  lay  on  mine,  and  we  were  both 
silent.  Just  then  the  clock  began  to  strike  far  off  in  the 
tower.  I  counted — eight — nine — ten — eleven — I  looked  at 
my  watch — twelve — thirteen — I  laughed.  The  bell  went  on 

**  The  old  clock  has  gone  crazy,  like  Judith,"  I  exclaimed. 
Still  it  went  on,  note  after  note  ringing  out  monotonously 
through  the  still  air.    We  leaned  over  the  rail,  instinctively 


American  Mystery  Stories 

looking  in  the  direction  whence  the  sound  came.  On  and  on 
it  went.  I  counted  nearly  a  hundred,  out  of  sheer  curiosity, 
for  I  understood  that  something  had  broken  and  that  the 
thing  was  running  itself  down. 

Suddenly  there  was  a  crack  as  of  breaking  wood,  a  cry 
and  a  heavy  splash,  and  I  was  alone,  clinging  to  the  broken 
end  of  the  rail  of  the  rustic  bridge, 

I  do  not  think  I  hesitated  while  my  pulse  beat  twice.  I 
sprang  clear  of  the  bridge  into  the  black  rushing  water, 
dived  to  the  bottom,  came  up  again  with  empty  hands, 
turned  and  swam  downward  through  the  grotto  in  the  thick 
darkness,  plunging  and  diving  at  every  stroke,  striking  my 
head  and  hands  against  jagged  stones  and  sharp  corners, 
clutching  at  last  something  in  my  fingers  and  dragging  it 
up  with  all  my  might.  I  spoke,  I  cried  aloud,  but  there  was 
no  answer.  I  was  alone  in  the  pitchy  darkness  with  my 
burden,  and  the  house  was  five  hundred  yards  away.  Strug- 
gling still,  I  felt  the  ground  beneath  my  feet,  I  saw  a  ray  of 
moonlight — the  grotto  widened,  and  the  deep  water  became 
a  broad  and  shallow  brook  as  I  stumbled  over  the  stones 
and  at  last  laid  Margaret's  body  on  the  bank  in  the  park 

"  Aye,  Willie,  as  the  clock  struck !  "  said  the  voice  of 
Judith,  the  Welsh  nurse,  as  she  bent  down  and  looked  at  the 
white  face.  The  old  woman  must  have  turned  back  and 
followed  us,  seen  the  accident,  and  slipped  out  by  the  lower 
gate  of  the  garden.  "  Aye,"  she  groaned,  "  you  have  fed 
the  Woman  of  the  Water  this  night,  Willie,  while  the  clock 
was  striking," 

I  scarcely  heard  her  as  I  knelt  beside  the  lifeless  body  of 
the  woman  I  loved,  chafing  the  wet  white  temples  and  gazing 
wildly  into  the  wide-staring  eyes.  I  remember  only  the  first 
returning  look  of  consciousness,  the  first  heaving  breath, 
the  first  movement  of  those  dear  hands  stretching  out  toward 

That  is  not  much  of  a  story,  you  say.  It  is  the  story  of 
my  life.     That  is  all.     It  does  not  pretend  to  be  anything 


F.  Marion  Crawford 

else.  Old  Judith  says  my  luck  turned  on  that  summer's 
night  when  I  was  struggling  in  the  water  to  save  all  that 
was  worth  living  for.  A  month  later  there  was  a  stone 
bridge  above  the  grotto,  and  Margaret  and  I  stood  on  it  and 
looked  up  at  the  moonlit  Castle,  as  we  had  done  once  before, 
and  as  we  have  done  many  times  since.  For  all  those  things 
happened  ten  years  ago  last  summer,  and  this  is  the  tenth 
Christmas  Eve  we  have  spent  together  by  the  roaring  logs 
in  the  old  hall,  talking  of  old  times;  and  every  year  there 
are  more  old  times  to  talk  of.  There  are  curly-headed  boys, 
too,  with  red-gold  hair  and  dark-brown  eyes  like  their 
mother's,  and  a  little  Margaret,  with  solemn  black  eyes  like 
mine.  Why  could  not  she  look  like  her  mother,  too,  as  well 
as  the  rest  of  them? 

The  world  is  very  bright  at  this  glorious  Christmas  time, 
and  perhaps  there  is  little  us^  in  calling  up  the  sadness  of 
long  ago,  unless  it  be  to  make  the  jolly  firelight  seem  more 
cheerful,  the  good  wife's  face  look  gladder,  and  to  give  the 
children's  laughter  a  merrier  ring,  by  contrast  with  all  that 
is  gone.  Perhaps,  too,  some  sad-faced,  listless,  melancholy 
youth,  who  feels  that  the  world  is  very  hollow,  and  that 
life  is  like  a  perpetual  funeral  service,  just  as  I  used  to  feel 
myself,  may  take  courage  from  my  example,  and  having 
found  the  woman  of  his  heart,  ask  her  to  marry  him  after 
half  an  hour's  acquaintance.  But,  on  the  whole,  I  would 
not  advise  any  man  to  marry,  for  the  simple  reason  that  no 
man  will  ever  find  a  wife  like  mine,  and  being  obliged  to 
go  farther,  he  will  necessarily  fare  worse.  My  wife  has 
done  miracles,  but  I  will  not  assert  that  any  other  woman 
is  able  to  follow  her  example. 

Margaret  always  said  that  the  old  place  was  beautiful, 
and  that  I  ought  to  be  proud  of  it.  I  dare  say  she  is  right. 
She  has  even  more  imagination  than  I.  But  I  have  a  good 
answer  and  a  plain  one,  which  is  this, — that  all  the  beauty 
of  the  Castle  comes  from  her.  She  has  breathed  upon  it  all, 
as  the  children  blow  upon  the  cold  glass  window  panes  in 
winter ;  and  as  their  warm  breath  crystallizes  into  landscapes 
from  fairyland,  full  of  exquisite  shapes  and  traceries  upon 


American  Mystery  Stories 

the  blank  surface,  so  her  spirit  has  transformed  every  gray 
stone  of  the  old  towers,  every  ancient  tree  and  hedge  in 
the  gardens,  every  thought  in  my  once  melancholy  self.  All 
that  was  old  is  young,  and  all  that  was  sad  is  glad,  and  I 
am  the  gladdest  of  all.  Whatever  heaven  may  be,  there  is 
no  earthly  paradise  without  woman,  nor  is  there  anywhere 
a  place  so  desolate,  so  dreary,  so  unutterably  m.iserable  that 
a  woman  cannot  make  it  seem  heaven  to  the  man  she  loves 
and  who  loves  her. 

I  hear  certain  cynics  laugh,  and  cry  that  all  that  has  been 
said  before.  Do  not  laugh,  my  good  cynic.  You  are  too 
small  a  man  to  laugh  at  such  a  great  thing  as  love.  Prayers 
have  been  said  before  now  by  many,  and  perhaps  you  say 
yours,  too.  I  do  not  think  they  lose  anything  by  being  re- 
peated, nor  you  by  repeating  them.  You  say  that  the  world 
is  bitter,  and  full  of  the  Waters  of  Bitterness.  Love,  and  so 
live  that  you  may  be  loved — the  world  will  turn  sweet  for 
you,  and  you  shall  rest  like  me  by  the  Waters  of  Paradise. 

From   "  The  Play-Actress  and   the   Upper  Berth/'   by  F. 
•*    Marion  Crawford.     Copyright,  i8p6,  by  G.  P.  Putnam's 


Mary  E.  Wilkins  Freeman 

The  Shadows  on  the  Wall 

**  T-T  ENRY  had  words  with  Edward  in  the  study  the  night 
before  Edward  died,"  said  Caroline  Glynn. 

She  was  elderly,  tall,  and  harshly  thin,  with  a  hard  color- 
lessness  of  face.  She  spoke  not  with  acrimony,  but  with 
grave  severity.  Rebecca  Ann  Glynn,  younger,  stouter  and 
rosy  of  face  between  her  crinkling  puffs  of  gray  hair, 
gasped,  by  way  of  assent.  She  sat  in  a  wide  flounce  of  black 
silk  in  the  corner  of  the  sofa,  and  rolled  terrified  eyes  from 
her  sister  Caroline  to  her  sister  Mrs.  Stephen  Brigham,  who 
had  been  Emma  Glynn,  the  one  beauty  of  the  family.  She 
was  beautiful  still,  with  a  large,  splendid,  full-blown  beauty ; 
she  filled  a  great  rocking  chair  with  her  superb  bulk  of 
femininity,  and  swayed  gently  back  and  forth,  her  black 
silks  whispering  and  her  black  frills  fluttering.  Even  the 
shock  of  death  (for  her  brother  Edward  lay  dead  in  the 
house)  could  not  disturb  her  outward  serenity  of  demeanor. 
She  was  grieved  over  the  loss  of  her  brother :  he  had  been 
the  youngest,  and  she  had  been  fond  of  him,  but  never  had 
Emma  Brigham  lost  sight  of  her  own  importance  amidst  the 
waters  of  tribulation.  She  was  always  awake  to  the  con- 
sciousness of  her  own  stability  in  the  midst  of  vicissitudes 
and  the  splendor  of  her  permanent  bearing. 

But  even  her  expression  of  masterly  placidity  changed  be- 
fore her  sister  Caroline's  announcement  and  her  sister  Re- 
becca Ann's  gasp  of  terror  and  distress  in  response. 

"  I  think  Henry  might  have  controlled  his  temper,  when 
poor  Edward  was  so  near  his  end,"  said  she  with  an  asperity 
which  disturbed  slightly  the  roseate  curves  of  her  beautiful 

"  Of  course  he  did  not  know"  murmured  Rebecca  Ann 


American  Mystery  Stories 

in  a  faint  tone  strangely  out  of  keeping  with  her  appear- 

One  invokintarily  looked  again  to  be  sure  that  such  a 
feeble  pipe  came  from  that  full-swelling  chest. 

"  Of  course  he  did  not  know  it,"  said  Caroline  quickly. 
She  turned  on  her  sister  with  a  strange  sharp  look  of  sus- 
picion. *'  How  could  he  have  known  it  ?  "  said  she.  Then 
she  shrank  as  if  from  the  other's  possible  answer.  "  Of 
course  you  and  I  both  know  he  could  not,"  said  she  con- 
clusively, but  her  pale  face  was  paler  than  it  had  been 

Rebecca  gasped  again.  The  married  sister,  Mrs.  Emma 
Brigham,  was  now  sitting  up  straight  in  her  chair ;  she  had 
ceased  rocking,  and  was  eyeing  them  both  intently  with  a 
sudden  accentuation  of  family  likeness  in  her  face.  Given 
one  common  intensity  of  emotion  and  similar  lines  showed 
forth,  and  the  three  sisters  of  one  race  were  evident. 

"  What  do  you  mean  ?  "  said  she  impartially  to  them  both. 
Then  she,  too,  seemed  to  shrink  before  a  possible  answer. 
She  even  laughed  an  evasive  sort  of  laugh.  "  I  guess  you 
don't  mean  anything,"  said  she,  but  her  face  wore  still  the 
expression  of  shrinking  horror. 

"  Nobody  means  anything,"  said  Caroline  firmly.  She 
rose  and  crossed  the  room  toward  the  door  with  grim  de- 

"  Where  are  you  going?  "  asked  Mrs.  Brigham. 

"  I  have  something  to  see  to,"  replied  Caroline,  and  the 
others  at  once  knew  by  her  tone  that  she  had  some  solemn 
and  sad  duty  to  perform  in  the  chamber  of  death. 

"  Oh,"  said  Mrs.  Brigham. 

After  the  door  had  closed  behind  Caroline,  she  turned  to 

"  Did  Henry  have  many  words  with  him  ?  "  she  asked. 

"  They  were  talking  very  loud,"  replied  Rebecca  evasivelv, 
yet  with  an  answering  gleam  of  ready  response  to  the  other's 
curiosity  in  the  quick  lift  of  her  soft  blue  eyes. 

Mrs.  Brigham  looked  at  her.  She  had  not  resumed  rock- 
ing.    She  still  sat  up  straight  with  a  slight  knitting  of  in- 


Mary  E.  Wilkin s  Freeman 

tensity  on  her  fair  forehead,  between  the  pretty  rippUng 
curves  of  her  auburn  hair. 

"Did  you — hear  anything?"  she  asked  in  a  low  voice 
with  a  glance  toward  the  door. 

"  I  was  just  across  the  hall  in  the  south  parlor,  and  that 
door  was  open  and  this  door  ajar,"  replied  Rebecca  with  a 
slight  flush. 

"  Then  you  must  have '* 

"  I  couldn't  help  it." 


"  Most  of  it." 

"What  was  it?" 

"  The  old  story." 

"  I  suppose  Henry  was  mad,  as  he  always  was,  because 
Edward  was  living  on  here  for  nothing,  when  he  had  wasted 
all  the  money  father  left  him." 

Rebecca  nodded  with  a  fearful  glance  at  the  door. 

When  Emma  spoke  again  her  voice  was  still  more  hushed. 
"  I  know  how  he  felt,"  said  she.  "  He  had  always  been  so 
prudent  himself,  and  worked  hard  at  his  profession,  and 
there  Edward  had  never  done  anything  but  spend,  and  it 
must  have  looked  to  him  as  if  Edward  was  living  at  his 
expense,  but  he  wasn't." 

"  No,  he  wasn't." 

"  It  was  the  way  father  left  the  property — that  all  the 
children  should  have  a  home  here  —  and  he  left  money 
enough  to  buy  the  food  and  all  if  we  had  all  come  home." 

"  Yes." 

"  And  Edward  had  a  right  here  according  to  the  terms 
of  father's  will,  and  Henry  ought  to  have  remembered  it." 

"  Yes,  he  ought." 

"  Did  he  say  hard  things  ?  " 

"  Pretty  hard  from  what  I  heard." 


"  I  heard  him  tell  Edward  that  he  had  no  business  here  at 
all,  and  he  thought  he  had  better  go  away." 
"  What  did  Edward  say  ?  " 

"  That  he  would  stay  here  as  long  as  he  lived  and  after- 


American  Mystery  Stories 

wards,  too,  if  he  was  a  mind  to,  and  he  would  hke  to  see 
Henrv  get  him  out ;  and  then " 

"  What  ? " 

"  Then  he  laughed." 

"What  did  Henry  say?" 

"  I  didn't  hear  him  say  anything,  but " 

"But  what?" 

"  I  saw  him  when  he  came  out  of  this  room." 

"He  looked  mad?" 

"  You've  seen  him  when  he  looked  so." 

Emma  nodded ;  the  expression  of  horror  on  her  face  had 

"  Do  you  remember  that  time  he  killed  the  cat  because 
she  had  scratched  him?" 

"Yes.    Don't!" 

Then  Caroline  reentered  the  room.  She  went  up  to  the 
stove  in  which  a  wood  fire  was  burning — it  was  a  cold, 
gloomy  day  of  fall — and  she  warmed  her  hands,  which  were 
reddened  from  recent  washing  in  cold  water. 

Mrs.  Brigham  looked  at  her  and  hesitated.  She  glanced 
at  the  door,  which  was  still  ajar,  as  it  did  not  easily  shut, 
being  still  swollen  with  the  damp  weather  of  the  summer. 
She  rose  and  pushed  it  together  with  a  sharp  thud  which 
jarred  the  house.  Rebecca  started  painfully  with  a  half 
exclamation.     Caroline  looked  at  her  disapprovingly. 

"  It  is  time  you  controlled  your  nerves,  Rebecca,"  said  she. 

"  I  can't  help  it,"  replied  Rebecca  with  almost  a  wail.  "  I 
am  nervous.  There's  enough  to  make  me  so,  the  Lord 

"  What  do  you  mean  by  that  ?  "  asked  Caroline  with  her 
old  air  of  sharp  suspicion,  and  something  between  challenge 
and  dread  of  its  being  met. 

Rebecca  shrank. 

"  Nothing,"  said  she. 

"  Then  I  wouldn't  keep  speaking  in  such  a  fashion." 

Emma,  returning  from  the  closed  door,  said  imperiously 
that  it  ought  to  be  fixed,  it  shut  so  hard. 

"  It  will  shrink  enough  after  we  have  had  the  fire  a  few 


Mary  E.  Wilkins  Freeman 

days,"  replied  Caroline.  "  If  anything  is  done  to  it  it  will  be 
too  small;  there  will  be  a  crack  at  the  sill." 

"  I  think  Henry  ought  to  be  ashamed  of  himself  for  talk- 
ing as  he  did  to  Edward,"  said  Mrs.  Brigham  abruptly,  but 
in  an  almost  inaudible  voice. 

"  Hush!  "  said  Caroline,  with  a  glance  of  actual  fear  at 
the  closed  door. 

"  Nobody  can  hear  with  the  door  shut." 

"  He  must  have  heard  it  shut,  and " 

"  Well,  I  can  say  what  I  want  to  before  he  comes  down, 
and  I  am  not  afraid  of  him." 

"I  don't  know  who  is  afraid  of  him!  What  reason  is 
there  for  anybody  to  be  afraid  of  Henry?  "  demanded  Caro- 

Mrs.  Brigham  trembled  before  her  sister's  look.  Rebecca 
gasped  again.  "  There  isn't  any  reason,  of  course.  Why 
should  there  be?" 

"  I  wouldn't  speak  so,  then.  Somebody  might  overhear 
you  and  think  it  was  queer.  Miranda  Joy  is  in  the  south 
parlor  sewing,  you  know." 

"  I  thought  she  went  upstairs  to  stitch  on  the  machine." 

"  She  did,  but  she  has  come  down  again." 

"  Well,  she  can't  hear. 

"  I  say  again  I  think  Henry  ought  to  be  ashamed  of  him- 
self. I  shouldn't  think  he'd  ever  get  over  it,  having  words 
with  poor  Edward  the  very  night  before  he  died.  Edward 
was  enough  sight  better  disposition  than  Henry,  with  all  his 
faults.  I  always  thought  a  great  deal  of  poor  Edward, 

Mrs.  Brigham  passed  a  large  fluff  of  handkerchief  across 
her  eyes;  Rebecca  sobbed  outright. 

"  Rebecca,"  said  Caroline  admonishingly,  keeping  her 
mouth  stiff  and  swallowing  determinately. 

"  I  never  heard  him  speak  a  cross  word,  unless  he  spoke 
cross  to  Henry  that  last  night.  I  don't  know,  but  he  did 
from  what  Rebecca  overheard,"  said  Emma. 

"  Not  so  much  cross  as  sort  of  soft,  and  sweet,  and  aggra- 
vating," snififled  Rebecca. 


American  Mystery  Stories 

"  He  never  raised  his  voice,"  said  Caroline;  "  but  he  had 
his  way." 

"  He  had  a  right  to  in  this  case." 

"  Yes,  he  did." 

"  He  had  as  much  of  a  right  here  as  Henry,"  sobbed 
Rebecca,  "  and  now  he's  gone,  and  he  will  never  be  in 
this  home  that  poor  father  left  him  and  the  rest  of  us 

"  What  do  you  really  think  ailed  Edward  ?  "  asked  Emma 
in  hardly  more  than  a  whisper.  She  did  not  look  at  her 

Caroline  sat  down  in  a  nearby  armchair,  and  clutched  the 
arms  convulsively  until  her  thin  knuckles  whitened. 

"  I  told  you,"  said  she. 

Rebecca  held  her  handkerchief  over  her  mouth,  and 
looked  at  them  above  it  with  terrified,  streaming  eyes. 

"  I  know  you  said  that  he  had  terrible  pains  in  his  stom- 
ach, and  had  spasms,  but  what  do  you  think  made  him  have 
them  ?  " 

"  Henry  called  it  gastric  trouble.  You  know  Edward  has 
always  had  dyspepsia." 

Mrs.  Brigham  hesitated  a  moment.  "  Was  there  any  talk 
of  an — examination?  "  said  she. 

Then  Caroline  turned  on  her  fiercely. 

"  No,"  said  she  in  a  terrible  voice.  "  No." 

The  three  sisters'  souls  seemed  to  meet  on  one  common 
ground  of  terrified  understanding  through  their  eyes.  The 
old-fashioned  latch  of  the  door  was  heard  to  rattle,  and  a 
push  from  without  made  the  door  shake  ineffectually.  "  It's 
Henry,"  Rebecca  sighed  rather  than  whispered.  Mrs.  Brig- 
ham  settled  herself  after  a  noiseless  rush  across  the  floor 
into  her  rocking-chair  again,  and  was  swaying  back  and  forth 
with  her  head  comfortably  leaning  back,  when  the  door  at 
last  yielded  and  Henry  Glynn  entered.  He  cast  a  covertly 
sharp,  comprehensive  glance  at  Mrs.  Brigham  with  her 
elaborate  calm;  at  Rebecca  quietly  huddled  in  the  corner  of 
the  sofa  with  her  handkerchief  to  her  face  and  only  one 
small  reddened  ear  as  attentive  as  a  dog's  uncovered  and 


Mary  E.  Wilkins  Freeman 

revealing  her  alertness  for  his  presence;  at  Caroline  sitting 
with  a  strained  composure  in  her  armchair  by  the  stove. 
She  met  his  eyes  quite  firmly  with  a  look  of  inscrutable  fear, 
and  defiance  of  the  fear  and  of  him. 

Henry  Glynn  looked  more  like  this  sister  than  the  others. 
Both  had  the  same  hard  delicacy  of  form  and  feature,  both 
were  tall  and  almost  emaciated,  both  had  a  sparse  growth 
of  gray  blond  hair  far  back  from  high  intellectual  foreheads, 
both  had  an  almost  noble  aquilinity  of  feature.  They  con- 
fronted each  other  with  the  pitiless  immovability  of  two 
statues  in  whose  marble  hneaments  emotions  were  fixed  for 
all  eternity. 

Then  Henry  Glynn  smiled  and  the  smile  transformed  his 
face.  He  looked  suddenly  years  younger,  and  an  almost 
boyish  recklessness  and  irresolution  appeared  in  his  face. 
He  flung  himself  into  a  chair  with  a  gesture  which  was  be- 
wildering from  its  incongruity  with  his  general  appearance. 
He  leaned  his  head  back,  flung  one  leg  over  the  other,  and 
looked  laughingly  at  Mrs.  Brigham. 

"  I  declare,  Emma,  you  grow  younger  every  year,"  he 

She  flushed  a  little,  and  her  placid  mouth  widened  at  the 
corners.     She  was  susceptible  to  praise. 

"  Our  thoughts  to-day  ought  to  belong  to  the  one  of  us 
who  will  never  grow  older,"  said  Caroline  in  a  hard  voice. 

Henry  looked  at  her,  still  smiling.  "  Of  course,  we  none 
of  us  forget  that,"  said  he,  in  a  deep,  gentle  voice,  "  but 
we  have  to  speak  to  the  living,  Caroline,  and  I  have  not 
seen  Emma  for  a  long  time,  and  the  living  are  as  dear  as  the 

"  Not  to  me,"  said  Caroline. 

She  rose,  and  went  abruptly  out  of  the  room  again.  Re- 
becca also  rose  and  hurried  after  her,  sobbing  loudly. 

Henry  looked  slowly  after  them. 

"  Caroline  is  completely  unstrung,"  said  he. 

Mrs.  Brigham  rocked.  A  confidence  in  him  inspired  by 
his  manner  was  stealing  over  her.  Out  of  that  confidence 
she  spoke  quite  easily  and  naturally. 


American  Mystery  Stories 

"  His  death  was  very  sudden,"  said  she. 

Henry's  eyeHds  quivered  sHghtly  but  his  gaze  was  un- 

"  Yes,"  said  he ;  "  it  was  very  sudden.  He  was  sick  only 
a  few  hours." 

"  What  did  you  call  it?  " 

"  Gastric." 

"  You  did  not  think  of  an  examination?  " 

"  There  was  no  need.  I  am  perfectly  certain  as  to  the 
cause  of  his  death." 

Suddenly  Mrs.  Brigham  felt  a  creep  as  of  some  live  hor- 
ror over  her  very  soul.  Her  flesh  prickled  with  cold,  before 
an  inflection  of  his  voice.  She  rose,  tottering  on  weak 

"  Where  are  you  going? "  asked  Henry  in  a  strange, 
breathless  voice. 

Mrs.  Brigham  said  something  incoherent  about  some 
sewing  which  she  had  to  do,  some  black  for  the  funeral, 
and  was  out  of  the  room.  She  went  up  to  the  front  cham- 
ber which  she  occupied.  Caroline  was  there.  She  went 
close  to  her  and  took  her  hands,  and  the  two  sisters  looked 
at  each  other. 

"Don't  speak,  don't,  I  won't  have  it!"  said  CaroHne 
finally  in  an  awful  whisper. 

"  I  won't,"  replied  Emma. 

That  afternoon  the  three  sisters  were  in  the  study,  the 
large  front  room  on  the  ground  floor  across  the  hall  from 
the  south  parlor,  when  the  dusk  deepened. 

Mrs.  Brigham  was  hemming  some  black  material.  She 
sat  close  to  the  west  window  for  the  waning  light.  At  last 
she  laid  her  work  on  her  lap. 

"  It's  no  use,  I  cannot  see  to  sew  another  stitch  until  we 
have  a  light,"  said  she. 

Caroline,  who  was  writing  some  letters  at  the  table, 
turned  to  Rebecca,  in  her  usual  place  on  the  sofa. 

"  Rebecca,  you  had  better  get  a  lamp,"  she  said. 

Rebecca  started  up;  even  in  the  dusk  her  face  showed  her 



Mary  E.  WUkiiis  Freeman 

"  It  doesn't  seem  to  me  that  we  need  a  lamp  quite  yet," 
she  said  in  a  piteous,  pleading  voice  like  a  child's. 

"  Yes,  we  do,"  returned  Mrs.  Brigham  peremptorily. 
"  We  must  have  a  light.  I  must  finish  this  to-night  or  I 
can't  go  to  the  funeral,  and  I  can't  see  to  sew  another 

"  Caroline  can  see  to  write  letters,  and  she  is  farther  from 
the  window  than  you  are,"  said  Rebecca. 

"  Are  you  trying  to  save  kerosene  or  are  you  lazy,  Re- 
becca Glynn?"  cried  Mrs.  Brigham.  "I  can  go  and  get 
the  light  myself,  but  I  have  this  work  all  in  my  lap." 

Caroline's  pen  stopped  scratching. 

"  Rebecca,  we  must  have  the  light,"  said  she. 

"  Had  we  better  have  it  in  here  ? "  asked  Rebecca 

"  Of  course  !     Why  not  ?  "  cried  Caroline  sternly. 

"  I  am  sure  I  don't  want  to  take  my  sewing  into  the  other 
room,  when  it  is  all  cleaned  up  for  to-morrow,"  said  Mrs. 

"  Whv,  I  never  heard  such  a  to-do  about  lighting  a 
lamp."  ' 

Rebecca  rose  and  left  the  room.  Presently  she  entered 
with  a  lamp — a  large  one  with  a  white  porcelain  shade. 
She  set  it  on  a  table,  an  old-fashioned  card-table  which  was 
placed  against  the  opposite  wall  from  the  window.  That 
wall  was  clear  of  bookcases  and  books,  which  were  only  on 
three  sides  of  the  room.  That  opposite  wall  was  taken  up 
with  three  doors,  the  one  small  space  being  occupied  by  the 
table.  Above  the  table  on  the  old-fashioned  paper,  of  a 
white  satin  gloss,  traversed  by  an  indeterminate  green 
scroll,  hung  quite  high  a  small  gilt  and  black-framed  ivory 
miniature  taken  in  her  girlhood  of  the  mother  of  the  family. 
When  the  lamp  was  set  on  the  table  beneath  it,  the  tiny 
pretty  face  painted  on  the  ivory  seemed  to  gleam  out  with 
a  look  of  intelligence. 

"  What  have  you  put  that  lamp  over  there  for?  "  asked 
Mrs.  Brigham,  with  more  of  impatience  than  her  voice  usu- 
ally revealed.    "  W^hy  didn't  you  set  it  in  the  hall  and  have 


American  Mystery  Stories 

done  with  it  ?    Neither  Caroline  nor  I  can  see  if  it  is  on  that 

"  I  thought  perhaps  you  would  move,"  replied  Rebecca 

"  If  I  do  move,  we  can't  both  sit  at  that  table.  Carohne 
has  her  paper  all  spread  around.  Why  don't  you  set  the 
lamp  on  the  study  table  in  the  middle  of  the  room,  then  we 
can  both  see?  " 

Rebecca  hesitated.  Her  face  was  very  pale.  She  looked 
with  an  appeal  that  was  fairly  agonizing  at  her  sister  Caro- 

"  Why  don't  you  put  the  lamp  on  this  table,  as  she 
says?"  asked  Caroline,  almost  fiercely.  "Why  do  you  act 
so,  Rebecca?  " 

"  I  should  think  you  would  ask  her  that,"  said  Mrs.  Brig- 
ham.     "  She  doesn't  act  like  herself  at  all." 

Rebecca  took  the  lamp  and  set  it  on  the  table  in  the 
middle  of  the  room  without  another  word.  Then  she  turned 
her  back  upon  it  quickly  and  seated  herself  on  the  sofa,  and 
placed  a  hand  over  her  eyes  as  if  to  shade  them,  and  re- 
mained so, 

"  Does  the  light  hurt  your  eyes,  and  is  that  the  reason 
why  you  didn't  want  the  lamp?"  asked  Mrs.  Brigham 

"  I  always  like  to  sit  in  the  dark,"  replied  Rebecca  chok- 
ingly. Then  she  snatched  her  handkerchief  hastily  from 
her  pocket  and  began  to  weep.  Caroline  continued  to  write, 
Mrs.  Brigham  to  sew. 

Suddenly  Mrs.  Brigham  as  she  sewed  glanced  at  the  oppo- 
site wall.  The  glance  became  a  steady  stare.  She  looked 
intently,  her  work  suspended  in  her  hands.  Then  she 
looked  away  again  and  took  a  few  more  stitches,  then  she 
looked  again,  and  again  turned  to  her  task.  At  last  she  laid 
her  work  in  her  lap  and  stared  concentratedly.  She  looked 
from  the  wall  around  the  roof,  taking  note  of  the  various 
objects;  she  looked  at  the  wall  long  and  intently.  Then  she 
turned  to  her  sisters. 

"  What  is  that?"  said  she. 


Mary  E.  Wilkins  Freeman 

"What?"  asked  Caroline  harshly;  her  pen  scratched 
loudly  across  the  paper. 

Rebecca  gave  one  of  her  convulsive  gasps. 

"  That  strange  shadow  on  the  wall,"  replied  Mrs.  Brig- 

Rebecca  sat  with  her  face  hidden:  Caroline  dipped  her 
pen  in  the  inkstand. 

"  Why  don't  you  turn  around  and  look  ?  "  asked  Mrs. 
Brigham  in  a  wondering  and  somewhat  aggrieved  way. 

"  I  am  in  a  hurry  to  finish  this  letter,  if  Mrs.  Wilson  Ebbit 
is  going  to  get  word  in  time  to  come  to  the  funeral,"  replied 
Caroline  shortly. 

Mrs.  Brigham  rose,  her  work  slipping  to  the  floor,  and 
she  began  walking  around  the  room,  moving  various  arti- 
cles of  furniture,  with  her  eyes  on  the  shadow. 

Then  suddenly  she  shrieked  out: 

"Look  at  this  awful  shadow!  What  is  it!  Caroline, 
look,  look!    Rebecca,  look!    What  is  it?  " 

All  Mrs.  Brigham's  triumphant  placidity  was  gone.  Her 
handsome  face  was  livid  with  horror.  She  stood  stiffly 
pointing  at  the  shadow, 

"Look!"  said  she,  pointing  her  finger  at  it.  "Look! 
What  is  it?" 

Then  Rebecca  burst  out  in  a  wild  wail  after  a  shuddering 
glance  at  the  wall: 

"  Oh,  Caroline,  there  it  is  again!    There  it  is  again! " 

"Caroline  Glynn,  you  look!"  said  Mrs.  Brigham. 
"  Look !    What  is  that  dreadful  shadow  ?  " 

Caroline  rose,  turned,  and  stood  confronting  the  wall. 

"  How  should  I  know  ?  "  she  said. 

"  It  has  been  there  every  night  since  he  died,"  cried  Re- 

"  Every  night  ?  " 

"Yes.  He  died  Thursday  and  this  is  Saturday;  that 
makes  three  nights,"  said  Caroline  rigidly.  She  stood  as  if 
holding  herself  calm  with  a  vise  of  concentrated  will. 

"  It — it  looks  like — like "  stammered  Mrs.  Brigham 

in  a  tone  of  intense  horror. 


American  Mystery  Stories 

"  I  know  what  it  looks  like  well  enough,"  said  Caroline. 
^'  I've  got  eyes  in  my  head." 

"  It  looks  like  Edward,"  burst  out  Rebecca  in  a  sort  of 
frenzy  of  fear.    "  Only " 

"  Yes,  it  does,"  assented  Mrs.  Brigham,  whose  horror- 
stricken  tone  matched  her  sister's,  "  only Oh,  it  is 

awful!     What  is  it,  Carohne?" 

"  I  ask  you  again,  how  should  I  know?  "  replied  Caroline. 
'"  I  see  it  there  like  you.  How  should  I  know  any  more 
than  you?  " 

"  It  must  be  something  in  the  room,"  said  Mrs.  Brigham, 
staring  wildly  around. 

"  We  moved  everything  in  the  room  the  first  night  it 
came,"  said  Rebecca;  "  it  is  not  anything  in  the  room." 

Caroline  turned  upon  her  with  a  sort  of  fury.  "  Of 
course  it  is  something  in  the  room,"  said  she.  "  How  you 
act!  What  do  you  mean  by  talking  so?  Of  course  it  is 
something  in  the  room." 

"  Of  course  it  is,"  agreed  Mrs.  Brigham,  looking  at  Caro- 
line suspiciously.  "  Of  course  it  must  be.  It  is  only  a 
coincidence.  It  just  happens  so.  Perhaps  it  is  that  fold 
of  the  window  curtain  that  makes  it.  It  must  be  something 
in  the  room." 

"  It  is  not  anything  in  the  room,"  repeated  Rebecca  with 
obstinate  horror. 

The  door  opened  suddenly  and  Henry  Glynn  entered. 
He  began  to  speak,  then  his  eyes  followed  the  direction  of 
the  others'.  He  stood  stock  still  staring  at  the  shadow  on 
the  wall.  It  was  life  size  and  stretched  across  the  white 
parallelogram  of  a  door,  half  across  the  wall  space  on  which 
the  picture  hung. 

"  What  is  that?  "  he  demanded  in  a  strange  voice. 

"  It  must  be  due  to  something  in  the  room,"  Mrs.  Brig- 
ham said  faintly. 

"  It  is  not  due  to  anything  in  the  room,"  said  Rebecca 
again  with  the  shrill  insistency  of  terror. 

"  How  you  act,  Rebecca  Glynn,"  said  Caroline. 

Henry  Glynn  stood  and  stared  a  moment  longer.     His 


Mary  E.  Wilkins  Freeman 

face  showed  a  gamut  of  emotions — horror,  conviction,  then 
furious  incredulity.  Suddenly  he  began  hastening  hither 
and  thither  about  the  room.  He  moved  the  furniture  with 
fierce  jerks,  turning  ever  to  see  the  effect  upon  the  shadow 
on  the  wall.    Not  a  line  of  its  terrible  outlines  wavered. 

"  It  must  be  something  in  the  room!  "  he  declared  in  a 
voice  which  seemed  to  snap  like  a  lash. 

His  face  changed.  The  inmost  secrecy  of  his  nature 
seemed  evident  until  one  almost  lost  sight  of  his  lineaments. 
Rebecca  stood  close  to  her  sofa,  regarding  him  with  woeful, 
fascinated  eyes.  Mrs.  Brigham  clutched  Caroline's  hand. 
They  both  stood  in  a  corner  out  of  his  way.  For  a  few 
moments  he  raged  about  the  room  like  a  caged  wild  animal. 
He  moved  every  piece  of  furniture;  when  the  moving  of  a 
piece  did  not  affect  the  shadow,  he  flung  it  to  the  floor,  his 
sisters  watching. 

Then  suddenly  he  desisted.  He  laughed  and  began 
straightening  the  furniture  which  he  had  flung  down. 

"  What  an  absurdity,"  he  said  easily.  "  Such  a  to-do 
about  a  shadow." 

"  That's  so,"  assented  Mrs.  Brigham,  in  a  scared  voice 
which  she  tried  to  make  natural.  As  she  spoke  she  lifted  a 
chair  near  her. 

"  I  think  you  have  broken  the  chair  that  Edward  was  so 
fond  of,"  said  Caroline. 

Terror  and  wrath  were  struggling  for  expression  on  her 
face.  Her  mouth  was  set,  her  eyes  shrinking.  Henry  lifted 
the  chair  with  a  show  of  anxiety. 

"  Just  as  good  as  ever,"  he  said  pleasantly.  He  laughed 
again,  looking  at  his  sisters.  "  Did  I  scare  you?  "  he  said. 
"  I  should  think  you  might  be  used  to  me  by  this  time. 
You  know  my  way  of  wanting  to  leap  to  the  bottom  of  a 
mystery,  and  that  shadow  does  look — queer,  like — and  I 
thought  if  there  was  any  way  of  accounting  for  it  I  would 
like  to  without  any  delay." 

"  You  don't  seem  to  have  succeeded,"  remarked  Caroline 
dryly,  with  a  slight  glance  at  the  wall. 

Henry's  eyes  followed  hers  and  he  quivered  perceptibly. 


American  Mystery  Stories 

"  Oh,  there  is  no  accounting  for  shadows,"  he  said,  and 
he  laughed  again.  "  A  man  is  a  fool  to  try  to  account  for 

Then  the  supper  bell  rang,  and  they  all  left  the  room,  but 
Henry  kept  his  back  to  the  wall,  as  did,  indeed,  the  others. 

Mrs.  Brigham  pressed  close  to  Caroline  as  she  crossed 
the  hall.  "  He  looked  like  a  demon!  "  she  breathed  in  her 

Henry  led  the  way  with  an  alert  motion  like  a  boy;  Re- 
becca brought  up  the  rear;  she  could  scarcely  walk,  her 
knees  trembled  so. 

"  I  can't  sit  in  that  room  again  this  evening,"  she  whis- 
pered to  Caroline  after  supper, 

"  Very  well,  we  will  sit  in  the  south  room,"  replied  Caro- 
line. "  I  think  we  will  sit  in  the  south  parlor,"  she  said 
aloud  ;  "  it  isn't  as  damp  as  the  study,  and  I  have  a  cold." 

So  they  all  sat  in  the  south  room  with  their  sewing. 
Henry  read  the  newspaper,  his  chair  drawn  close  to  the 
lamp  on  the  table.  About  nine  o'clock  he  rose  abruptly  and 
crossed  the  hall  to  the  study.  The  three  sisters  looked  at 
one  another.  Mrs.  Brigham  rose,  folded  her  rustling  skirts 
compactly  around  her,  and  began  tiptoeing  toward  the  door. 

"What  are  you  going  to  do?"  inquired  Rebecca  agi- 

"  I  am  going  to  see  what  he  is  about,"  replied  Mrs.  Brig- 
ham cautiously. 

She  pointed  as  she  spoke  to  the  study  door  across  the 
hall;  it  was  ajar.  Henry  had  striven  to  pull  it  together 
behind  him,  but  it  had  somehow  swollen  beyond  the  limit 
with  curious  speed.  It  was  still  ajar  and  a  streak  of  light 
showed  from  top  to  bottom.    The  hall  lamp  was  not  lit. 

"  You  had  better  stay  where  you  are,"  said  Caroline  with 
guarded  sharpness. 

"  I  am  going  to  see,"  repeated  Mrs.  Brigham  firmly. 

Then  she  folded  her  skirts  so  tightly  that  her  bulk  with 
its  swelling  curves  was  revealed  in  a  black  silk  sheath,  and 
she  went  with  a  slow  toddle  across  the  hall  to  the  study 
door.    She  stood  there,  her  eye  at  the  crack. 


Mary  E.  Wilkins  Freeman 

In  the  south  room  Rebecca  stopped  sewing  and  sat 
watching  with  dilated  eyes.  Caroline  sewed  steadily.  What 
Mrs,  Brigham,  standing  at  the  crack  in  the  study  door,  saw 
was  this: 

Henry  Glynn,  evidently  reasoning  that  the  source  of  the 
strange  shadow  must  be  between  the  table  on  which  the 
lamp  stood  and  the  wall,  was  making  systematic  passes  and 
thrusts  all  over  and  through  the  intervening  space  with  an 
old  sword  which  had  belonged  to  his  father.  Not  an  inch 
was  left  unpierced.  He  seemed  to  have  divided  the  space 
into  mathematical  sections.  He  brandished  the  sword  with 
a  sort  of  cold  fury  and  calculation ;  the  blade  gave  out  flashes 
of  light,  the  shadow  remained  unmoved.  Mrs.  Brigham, 
watching,  felt  herself  cold  with  horror. 

Finally  Henry  ceased  and  stood  with  the  sword  in  hand 
and  raised  as  if  to  strike,  surveying  the  shadow  on  the  wall 
threateningly.  Mrs.  Brigham  toddled  back  across  the  hall 
and  shut  the  south  room  door  behind  her  before  she  related 
what  she  had  seen. 

"  He  looked  like  a  demon!  "  she  said  again,  "  Have  you 
got  any  of  that  old  wine  in  the  house,  Caroline?  I  don't 
feel  as  if  I  could  stand  much  more." 

Indeed,  she  looked  overcome.  Her  handsome  placid  face 
was  worn  and  strained  and  pale. 

"  Yes,  there's  plenty,"  said  Caroline; "  you  can  have  some 
when  you  go  to  bed." 

"  I  think  we  had  all  better  take  some,"  said  Mrs.  Brig- 
ham.   "  Oh,  my  God,  Caroline,  what " 

"  Don't  ask  and  don't  speak,"  said  Caroline. 

"No,  I  am  not  going  to,"  rephed  Mrs.  Brigham; 
"  but " 

Rebecca  moaned  aloud. 

"  What  are  you  doing  that  for?  "  asked  Caroline  harshly. 

"  Poor  Edward !  "  returned  Rebecca. 

"  That  is  all  you  have  to  groan  for,"  said  Caroline. 
"  There  is  nothing  else." 

"  I  am  going  to  bed,"  said  Mrs.  Brigham.  "  I  sha'n't  be 
able  to  be  at  the  funeral  if  I  don't." 


American  Mystery  Stories 

Soon  the  three  sisters  went  to  their  chambers  and  the 
south  parlor  was  deserted.  CaroUne  called  to  Henry  in  the 
study  to  put  out  the  light  before  he  came  upstairs.  They 
had  been  gone  about  an  hour  when  he  came  into  the  room 
bringing  the  lamp  which  had  stood  in  the  study.  He  set 
it  on  the  table  and  waited  a  few  minutes,  pacing  up  and 
down.  His  face  was  terrible,  his  fair  complexion  showed 
livid ;  his  blue  eyes  seemed  dark  blanks  of  awful  re- 

Then  he  took  the  lamp  up  and  returned  to  the  library. 
He  set  the  lamp  on  the  center  table,  and  the  shadow  sprang 
out  on  the  wall.  Again  he  studied  the  furniture  and  moved 
it  about,  but  deliberately,  with  none  of  his  former  frenzy. 
Nothing  affected  the  shadow.  Then  he  returned  to  the 
south  room  with  the  lamp  and  again  waited.  Again  he 
returned  to  the  study  and  placed  the  lamp  on  the  table, 
and  the  shadow  sprang  out  upon  the  wall.  It  was  midnight 
before  he  went  upstairs.  Mrs.  Brigham  and  the  other  sis- 
ters, who  could  not  sleep,  heard  him. 

The  next  day  w'as  the  funeral.  That  evening  the  family 
sat  in  the  south  room.  Some  relatives  were  with  them. 
Nobody  entered  the  study  until  Henry  carried  a  lamp  in 
there  after  the  others  had  retired  for  the  night.  He  saw 
again  the  shadow  on  the  wall  leap  to  an  awful  life  before 
the  light. 

The  next  morning  at  breakfast  Henry  Glynn  announced 
that  he  had  to  go  to  the  city  for  three  days.  The  sisters 
looked  at  him  with  surprise.  He  very  seldom  left  home,  and 
just  now  his  practice  had  been  neglected  on  account  of  Ed- 
ward's death.     He  was  a  physician. 

"How  can  you  leave  your  patients  now?"  asked  Mrs. 
Brigham  wonderingly. 

"  I  don't  know  how  to,  but  there  is  no  other  way,"  replied 
Henry  easily.  "  I  have  had  a  telegram  from  Doctor  Mit- 

"Consultation?"  inquired  Mrs.  Brigham. 

"  I  have  business,"  replied  Henry. 

Doctor  Mitford  was  an  old  classmate  of  his  who  lived  in 


Mary  E.  IVilkins  Freeman 

a  neighboring  city  and  who  occasionally  called  upon  him 
in  the  case  of  a  consultation. 

After  he  had  gone  Mrs.  Brigham  said  to  Caroline  that 
after  all  Henry  had  not  said  that  he  was  going  to  consult 
with  Doctor  Mitford,  and  she  thought  it  very  strange. 

"  Everything  is  very  strange,"  said  Rebecca  with  a  shud- 

"What  do  you  mean?"  inquired  Caroline  sharply. 

"  Nothing,"  replied  Rebecca. 

Nobody  entered  the  library  that  day,  nor  the  next,  nor  the 
next.  The  third  day  Henry  was  expected  home,  but  he  did 
not  arrive  and  the  last  train  from  the  city  had  come. 

"  I  call  it  pretty  queer  work,"  said  Mrs.  Brigham.  "  The 
idea  of  a  doctor  leaving  his  patients  for  three  days  anyhow, 
at  such  a  time  as  this,  and  I  know  he  has  some  very  sick 
ones;  he  said  so.  And  the  idea  of  a  consultation  lasting 
three  days!  There  is  no  sense  in  it,  and  now  he  has  not 
come.     I  don't  understand  it,  for  my  part." 

"  I  don't  either,"  said  Rebecca. 

They  were  all  in  the  south  parlor.  There  was  no  light 
in  the  study  opposite,  and  the  door  was  ajar. 

Presently  Mrs.  Brigham  rose — she  could  not  have  told 
why;  something  seemed  to  impel  her,  some  will  outside  her 
own.  She  went  out  of  the  room,  again  wrapping  her  rus- 
tling skirts  around  that  she  might  pass  noiselessly,  and 
began  pushing  at  the  swollen  door  of  the  study. 

"  She  has  not  got  any  lamp,"  said  Rebecca  in  a  shaking 
voice.   • 

Caroline,  who  was  writing  letters,  rose  again,  took  a  lamp 
(there  were  two  in  the  room)  and  followed  her  sister.  Re- 
becca had  risen^  but  she  stood  trembling,  not  venturing  to 

The  doorbell  rang,  but  the  others  did  not  hear  it ;  it  was 
on  the  south  door  on  the  other  side  of  the  house  from 
the  study.  Rebecca,  after  hesitating  until  the  bell  rang 
the  second  time,  went  to  the  door ;  she  remembered  that  the 
servant  was  out. 

Caroline  and  her  sister  Emma  entered  the  study.    Caro- 


American  Mystery  Stories 

line  set  the  lamp  on  the  table.  They  looked  at  the  wall. 
"  Oh,  my  God,"  gasped  Mrs.  Brigham,  "  there  are — there 
are  two — shadows."  The  sisters  stood  clutching  each  other, 
staring  at  the  awful  things  on  the  wall.  Then  Rebecca 
came  in,  staggering,  with  a  telegram  in  her  hand.  "  Here 
is — a  telegram,"  she  gasped.    "  Henry  is — dead." 

Frotn  "  The  Wind  in  the  Rosebush,"  by  Mary  E.  Wilkins 
Freeman.  Copyright,  ipo^,  by  Doubleday,  Page  & 


Melville  Davisson  Post 

Introduction  to   The  Corpus  Delicti 

The  high  ground  of  the  field  of  crime  has  not  been  explored; 
it  has  not  even  been  entered.  The  book  stalls  have  been  filled  to 
weariness  with  tales  based  upon  plans  whereby  the  detective,  or 
ferreting  power  of  the  State  might  be  baffled.  But,  prodigious 
marvel !  no  writer  has  attempted  to  construct  tales  based  upon  plans 
whereby  the  punishing  power  of  the  State  might  be  baffled. 

The  distinction,  if  one  pauses  for  a  moment  to  consider  it,  is 
striking.  It  is  possible,  even  easy,  deliberately  to  plan  crimes  so 
that  the  criminal  agent  and  the  criminal  agency  cannot  be  detected. 
Is  it  possible  to  plan  and  execute  wrongs  in  such  a  manner  that  they 
will  have  all  the  effect  and  all  the  resulting  profit  of  desperate 
crimes  and  yet  not  be  crimes  before  the  law? 

We  are  prone  to  forget  that  the  law  is  no  perfect  structure,  that 
it  is  simply  the  result  of  human  labor  and  human  genius,  and  that 
whatever  laws  human  ingenuity  can  create  for  the  protection  of 
men,  those  same  laws  human  ingenuity  can  evade.  The  Spirit  of 
Evil  is  no  dwarf ;  he  has  developed  equally  with  the  Spirit  of  Good. 

All  wrongs  are  not  crimes.  Indeed  only  those  wrongs  are 
crimes  in  which  certain  technical  elements  are  present.  The  law 
provides  a  Procrustean  standard  for  all  crimes.  Thus  a  wrong,  to 
become  criminal,  must  fit  exactly  into  the  measure  laid  down  by 
the  law,  else  it  is  no  crime ;  if  it  varies  never  so  little  from  the  legal 
measure,  the  law  must,  and  will,  refuse  to  regard  it  as  criminal, 
no  matter  how  injurious  a  wrong  it  may  be.  There  is  no  measure 
of  morality,  or  equity,  or  common  right  that  can  be  applied  to  the 
individual  case.  The  gauge  of  the  law  is  iron-bound.  The  wrong 
measured  by  this  gauge  is  either  a  crime  or  it  is  not.  There  is  no 
middle  ground. 

Hence  is  it,  that  if  one  knows  well  the  technicalities  of  the  law, 
one  may  commit  horrible  wrongs  that  will  yield  all  the  gain  and  all 
the  resulting  effect  of  the  highest  crimes,  and  yet  the  wrongs 
perpetrated  will  constitute  no  one  of  the  crimes  described  by  the 
law.     Thus  the  highest  crimes,  even  murder,  may  be  committed 


American  Mystery  Stories 

in  such  manner  that  although  the  criminal  is  known  and  the  law 
holds  him  in  custody,  yet  it  cannot  punish  him.  So  it  happens 
that  in  this  year  of  our  Lord  of  the  nineteenth  century,  the  skillful 
attorney  marvels  at  the  stupidity  of  the  rogue  who,  committing 
crimes  by  the  ordinary  methods,  subjects  himself  to  unnecessary 
peril,  when  the  result  which  he  seeks  can  easily  be  attained  by  other 
methods,  equally  expeditious  and  without  danger  of  liability  in 
any  criminal  tribunal.  This  is  the  field  into  which  the  author  has 
ventured,  and  he  believes  it  to  be  new  and  full  of  interest. 

It  may  be  objected  that  the  writer  has  prepared  here  a  text-book 
for  the  shrewd  knave.  To  this  it  is  answered  that,  if  he  instructs 
the  enemies,  he  also  warns  the  friends  of  law  and  order;  and  that 
Evil  has  never  yet  been  stronger  because  the  sun  shone  on  it. 

[See  Lord  Hale's  Rule,  Russell  on  Crimes.  For  the  law  in 
New  York  see  i8th  N.  Y.  Reports,  179;  also  N.  Y.  Reports,  49, 
page  137.  The  doctrine  there  laid  down  obtains  in  almost  every 
State,  with  the  possible  exception  of  a  few  Western  States,  where 
the  decisions  are  muddy.] 

T^e  Corpus  Delicti 

"HTHAT  man  Mason,"  said  Samuel  Walcott,  "  is  the  mys- 
terious member  of  this  club.  He  is  more  than  that ; 
he  is  the  mysterious  man  of  New  York." 

"  I  was  much  surprised  to  see  him,"  answered  his  com- 
panion, Marshall  St.  Clair,  of  the  great  law  firm  of  Seward, 
St.  Clair  &  De  Muth.  "  I  had  lost  track  of  him  since  he 
went  to  Paris  as  counsel  for  the  American  stockholders  of 
the  Canal  Company.  When  did  he  come  back  to  the 
States  ?  " 

"  He  turned  up  suddenly  in  his  ancient  haunts  about  four 
months  ago,"  said  Walcott,  "  as  grand,  gloomy,  and  peculiar 
as  Napoleon  ever  was  in  his  palmiest  days.  The  younger 
members  of  the  club  call  him  '  Zanona  Redivivus.'  He  wan- 
ders through   the  house  usually   late  at   night,   apparently 


Melville  Davisson  Post 

without  noticing  anything  or  anybody.  His  mind  seems  to 
be  deeply  and  busily  at  work,  leaving  his  bodily  self  to  wan- 
der as  it  may  happen.  Naturally,  strange  stories  are  told 
of  him;  indeed,  his  individuality  and  his  habit  of  doing 
some  unexpected  thing,  and  doing  it  in  such  a  marvelously 
original  manner  that  men  who  are  experts  at  it  look  on  in 
wonder,  cannot  fail  to  make  him  an  object  of  interest. 

"  He  has  never  been  known  to  play  at  any  game  what- 
ever, and  yet  one  night  he  sat  down  to  the  chess  table  with 
old  Admiral  Du  Brey.  You  know  the  Admiral  is  the  great 
champion  since  he  beat  the  French  and  English  officers  in 
the  tournament  last  winter.  Well,  you  also  know  that  the 
conventional  openings  at  chess  are  scientifically  and  accu- 
rately determined.  To  the  utter  disgust  of  Du  Brey,  Mason 
opened  the  game  with  an  unheard-of  attack  from  the  ex- 
tremes of  the  board.  The  old  Admiral  stopped  and,  in  a 
kindly  patronizing  way,  pointed  out  the  weak  and  absurd 
folly  of  his  move  and  asked  him  to  begin  again  with  some 
one  of  the  safe  openings.  Mason  smiled  and  answered  that 
if  one  had  a  head  that  he  could  trust  he  should  use  it ;  if 
not,  then  it  was  the  part  of  wisdom  to  follow  blindly  the 
dead  forms  of  some  man  who  had  a  head.  Du  Brey  was 
naturally  angry  and  set  himself  to  demolish  Mason  as  quickly 
as  possible.  The  game  was  rapid  for  a  few  moments.  Mason 
lost  piece  after  piece.  His  opening  was  broken  and  destroyed 
and  its  utter  folly  apparent  to  the  lookers-on.  The  Admiral 
smiled  and  the  game  seemed  all  one-sided,  when,  suddenly, 
to  his  utter  horror,  Du  Brey  found  that  his  king  was  in  a 
trap.  The  foolish  opening  had  been  only  a  piece  of  shrewd 
strategy.  The  old  Admiral  fought  and  cursed  and  sacrificed 
his  pieces,  but  it  was  of  no  use.  He  was  gone.  Mason 
checkmated  him  in  two  moves  and  arose  wearily. 

"  '  Where  in  Heaven's  name,  man,'  said  the  old  Admiral, 
thunderstruck,  'did  you  learn  that  masterpiece?' 

"  '  Just  here,'  replied  Mason.  '  To  play  chess,  one  should 
know. his  opponent.  How  could  the  dead  masters  lay  down 
rules  by  which  you  could  be  beaten,  sir?  They  had  never 
seen  you  ' ;  and  thereupon  he  turned  and  left  the  room.    Of 


American  Mystery  Stories 

course,  St.  Clair,  such  a  strange  man  would  soon  become 
an  object  of  all  kinds  of  mysterious  rumors.  Some  are  true 
and  some  are  not.  At  any  rate,  I  know  that  Mason  is  an 
unusual  man  with  a  gigantic  intellect.  Of  late  he  seems  to 
have  taken  a  strange  fancy  to  me.  In  fact,  I  seem  to  be 
the  only  member  of  the  club  that  he  will  talk  with,  and  I 
confess  that  he  startles  and  fascinates  me.  He  is  an  original 
genius,  St.  Clair,  of  an  unusual  order." 

"  I  recall  vividly,"  said  the  younger  man,  "  that  before 
Mason  went  to  Paris  he  was  considered  one  of  the  greatest 
lawyers  of  this  city  and  he  was  feared  and  hated  by  the 
bar  at  large.  He  came  here,  I  believe,  from  Virginia  and 
began  with  the  high-grade  criminal  practice.  He  soon  be- 
came famous  for  his  powerful  and  ingenious  defenses.  He 
found  holes  in  the  law  through  which  his  clients  escaped, 
holes  that  by  the  profession  at  large  were  not  suspected  to 
exist,  and  that  frequently  astonished  the  judges.  His  ability 
caught  the  attention  of  the  great  corporations.  They  tested 
him  and  found  in  him  learning  and  unlimited  resources.  He 
pointed  out  methods  by  which  they  could  evade  obnoxious 
statutes,  by  which  they  could  comply  with  the  apparent  let- 
ter of  the  law  and  yet  violate  its  spirit,  and  advised  them 
well  in  that  most  important  of  all  things,  just  how  far  they 
could  bend  the  law  without  breaking  it.  At  the  time  he 
left  for  Paris  he  had  a  vast  clientage  and  was  in  the  midst 
of  a  brilliant  career.  The  day  he  took  passage  from  New 
York,  the  bar  lost  sight  of  him.  No  matter  how  great  a 
man  may  be,  the  wave  soon  closes  over  him  in  a  city  Hke 
this.  In  a  few  years  Mason  was  forgotten.  Now  only  the 
older  practitioners  would  recall  him,  and  they  would  do  so 
with  hatred  and  bitterness.  He  was  a  tireless,  savage,  un- 
compromising fighter,  always  a  recluse." 

"  Well,"  said  Walcott,  "  he  reminds  me  of  a  great  world- 
weary  cynic,  transplanted  from  some  ancient  mysterious  em- 
pire. When  I  come  into  the  man's  presence  I  feel  in- 
stinctively the  grip  of  his  intellect.  I  tell  you,  St.  Clair, 
Randolph  Mason  is  the  mysterious  man  of  New  York." 

At  this  moment  a  messenger  boy  came  into  the  room  and 


Melville  Davisson  Post 

handed  Mr.  Walcott  a  telegram.  "  St.  Clair,"  said  that 
gentleman,  rising,  "  the  directors  of  the  Elevated  are  in  ses- 
sion, and  we  must  hurry."  The  two  men  put  on  their  coats 
and  left  the  house. 

Samuel  Walcott  was  not  a  club  man  after  the  manner 
of  the  Smart  Set,  and  yet  he  was  in  fact  a  club  man.  He 
was  a  bachelor  in  the  latter  thirties,  and  resided  in  a  great 
silent  house  on  the  avenue.  On  the  street  he  was  a  man  of 
substance,  shrewd  and  progressive,  backed  by  great  wealth. 
He  had  various  corporate  interests  in  the  larger  syndicates, 
but  the  basis  and  foundation  of  his  fortune  was  real  estate. 
His  houses  on  the  avenue  were  the  best  possible  property, 
and  his  elevator  row  in  the  importers'  quarter  was  indeed 
a  literal  gold  mine.  It  was  known  that,  many  years  before, 
his  grandfather  had  died  and  left  him  the  property,  which, 
at  that  time,  was  of  no  great  value.  Young  Walcott  had 
gone  out  into  the  gold-fields  and  had  been  lost  sight  of  and 
forgotten.  Ten  years  afterwards  he  had  turned  up  suddenly 
in  New  York  and  taken  possession  of  his  property,  then 
vastly  increased  in  value.  His  speculations  were  almost 
phenomenally  successful,  and,  backed  by  the  now  enormous 
value  of  his  real  property,  he  was  soon  on  a  level  with  the 
merchant  princes.  His  judgment  was  considered  sound,  and 
he  had  the  full  confidence  of  his  business  associates  for 
safety  and  caution.  Fortune  heaped  up  riches  around  him 
with  a  lavish  hand.  He  was  unmarried  and  the  halo  of  his 
wealth  caught  the  keen  eye  of  the  matron  with  marriage- 
able daughters.  He  was  invited  out,  caught  by  the  whirl  of 
society,  and  tossed  into  its  maelstrom.  In  a  measure  he 
reciprocated.  He  kept  horses  and  a  yacht.  His  dinners  at 
Delmonico's  and  the  club  were  above  reproach.  But  with 
all  he  was  a  silent  man  with  a  shadow  deep  in  his  eyes,  and 
seemed  to  court  the  society  of  his  fellows,  not  because  he 
loved  them,  but  because  he  either  hated  or  feared  solitude. 
For  years  the  strategy  of  the  match-maker  had  gone  grace- 
fully afield,  but  Fate  is  relentless.  If  she  shields  the  victim 
from  the  traps  of  men,  it  is  not  because  she  wishes  him  to 
escape,  but  because  she  is  pleased  to  reserve  him  for  her 


American  Mystery  Stories 

own  trap.  So  it  happened  that,  when  Virginia  St.  Clair 
assisted  Mrs.  Miriam  Steuvisant  at  her  midwinter  recep- 
tion, this  same  Samuel  Walcott  fell  deeply  and  hopelessly 
and  utterly  in  love,  and  it  was  so  apparent  to  the  beaten 
generals  present,  that  Mrs.  Miriam  Steuvisant  applauded 
herself,  so  to  speak,  with  encore  after  encore.  It  was  gop.d 
to  see  this  courteous,  silent  man  literally  at  the  feet  of  the 
3-oung  debutante.  He  was  there  of  right.  Even  the  mothers 
of  marriageable  daughters  adrnitted  that.  The  young  girl 
w^as  brown-haired,  brown-eyed,  and  tall  enough,  said  the 
experts,  and  of  the  blue  blood  royal,  with  all  the  grace, 
courtesy,  and  inbred  genius  of  such  princely  heritage. 

Perhaps  it  was  objected  by  the  censors  of  the  Smart  Set 
that  Miss  St.  Clair's  frankness  and  honesty  were  a  trifle 
old-fashioned,  and  that  she  was  a  shadowy  bit  of  a  Puritan ; 
and  perhaps  it  was  of  these  same  qualities  that  Samuel  Wal- 
cott received  his  hurt.  At  any  rate  the  hurt  was  there  and 
deep,  and  the  new  actor  stepped  up  into  the  old  time-worn, 
semi-tragic  drama,  and  began  his  role  with  a  tireless,  utter 
sincerity  that  was  deadly  dangerous  if  he  lost. 


Perhaps  a  week  after  the  conversation  between  St.  Clair 
and  Walcott,  Randolph  Mason  stood  in  the  private  waiting- 
room  of  the  club  with  his  hands  behind  his  back. 

He  was  a  man  apparently  in  the  middle  forties ;  tall  and 
reasonably  broad  across  the  shoulders ;  muscular  without  be- 
ing either  stout  or  lean.  His  hair  was  thin  and  of  a  brown 
color,  with  erratic  streaks  of  gray.  His  forehead  was  broad 
and  high  and  of  a  faint  reddish  color.  His  eyes  were  rest- 
less inky  black,  and  not  over-large.  The  nose  was  big  and 
muscular  and  bowed.  The  eyebrows  were  black  and  heavy, 
almost  bushy.  There  were  heavy  furrows,  running  from 
the  nose  downward  and  outward  to  the  corners  of  the  mouth. 
The  mouth  was  straight  and  the  jaw  was  heavy,  and  square. 

Looking  at  the  face  of  Randolph  Mason  from  above,  the 


Melville  Davisson  Post 

expression  in  repose  was  crafty  and  cynical ;  viewed  from 
below  upward,  it  was  savage  and  vindictive,  almost  brutal ; 
while  from  the  front,  if  looked  squarely  in  the  face,  the 
stranger  was  fascinated  by  the  animation  of  the  man  and 
at  once  concluded  that  his  expression  was  fearless  and  sneer- 
ing. He  was  evidently  of  Southern  extraction  and  a  man. 
of  unusual  power. 

A  fire  smoldered  on  the  hearth.  It  was  a  crisp  evening' 
in  the  early  fall,  and  with  that  far-off  touch  of  melancholy 
which  ever  heralds  the  coming  winter,  even  in  the  midst  of 
a  city.  The  man's  face  looked  tired  and  ugly.  His  long 
white  hands  were  clasped  tight  together.  His  entire  figure 
and  face  wore  every  mark  of  weakness  and  physical  ex- 
haustion ;  but  his  eyes  contradicted.  They  were  red  and 

In  the  private  dining-room  the  dinner  party  was  in  the 
best  of  spirits.  Samuel  Walcott  was  happy.  Across  the 
table  from  him  was  Miss  Virginia  St.  Clair,  radiant,  a  tinge 
of  color  in  her  cheeks.  On  either  side,  Mrs,  Miriam  Steu- 
visant  and  Marshall  St.  Clair  were  brilliant  and  light- 
hearted.  Walcott  looked  at  the  young  girl  and  the  measure 
of  his  worship  was  full.  He  wondered  for  the  thousandth 
time  how  she  could  possibly  love  him  and  by  what  earthly 
miracle  she  had  come  to  accept  him,  and  how  it  would  be 
always  to  have  her  across  the  table  from  him,  his  own  table 
in  his  own  house. 

They  were  about  to  rise  from  the  table  when  one  of  the 
waiters  entered  the  room  and  handed  Walcott  an  envelope. 
He  thrust  it  quickly  into  his  pocket.  In  the  confusion  of 
rising  the  others  did  not  notice  him,  but  his  face  was  ash 
white  and  his  hands  trembled  violently  as  he  placed  the 
wraps  around  the  bewitching  shoulders  of  Miss  St.  Clair. 

"  Marshall,"  he  said,  and  despite  the  powerful  effort  his 
voice  was  hollow,  "  you  will  see  the  ladies  safely  cared  for, 
I  am  called  to  attend  a  grave  matter." 

"  All  right,  Walcott,"  answered  the  young  man,  with 
cheery  good  nature,  "you  are  too  serious,  old  man,  trot 


American  Mystery  Stories 

"  The  poor  dear,"  murmured  Mrs.  Steuvisant,  after  Wal- 
cott  had  helped  them  to  the  carriage  and  turned  to  go  up 
the  steps  of  the  club, — "  The  poor  dear  is  hard  hit,  and  men 
are  such  funny  creatures  when  they  are  hard  hit." 

Samuel  Walcott,  as  his  fate  would,  went  direct  to  the 
private  writing-room  and  opened  the  door.  The  lights  were 
not  turned  on  and  in  the  dark  he  did  not  see  Mason  motion- 
less by  the  mantel-shelf.  He  went  quickly  across  the  room  to 
the  writing-table,  turned  on  one  of  the  lights,  and,  taking  the 
envelope  from  his  pocket,  tore  it  open.  Then  he  bent  down 
by  the  light  to  read  the  contents.  As  his  eyes  ran  over  the 
paper,  his  jaw  fell.  The  skin  drew  away  from  his  cheek- 
bones and  his  face  seemed  literally  to  sink  in.  His  knees 
gave  way  under  him  and  he  would  have  gone  down  in  a 
heap  had  it  not  been  for  Mason's  long  arms  that  closed 
around  him  and  held  him  up.  The  human  economy  is  ever 
mysterious.  The  moment  the  new  danger  threatened,  the 
latent  power  of  the  man  as  an  animal,  hidden  away  in  the 
centers  of  intelligence,  asserted  itself.  His  hand  clutched 
the  paper  and,  with  a  half  slide,  he  turned  in  Mason's  arms. 
For  a  moment  he  stared  up  at  the  ugly  man  whose  thin 
arms  felt  like  wire  ropes. 

"  You  are  under  the  dead-fall,  aye,"  said  Mason.  "  The 
cunning  of  my  enemy  is  sublime." 

"  Your  enemy?  "  gasped  Walcott.  "  When  did  you  come 
into  it?  How  in  God's  name  did  you  know  it?  How  your 
enemy  ?  " 

Mason  looked  down  at  the  wide  bulging  eyes  of  the  man. 

"  Who  should  know  better  than  I  ?  "  he  said.  "  Haven't 
I  broken  through  all  the  traps  and  plots  that  she  could  set  ?  " 

"  She  ?  She  trap  you  ?  "  The  man's  voice  was  full  of 

"  The  old  schemer,"  muttered  Mason.  "  The  cowardly 
old  schemer,  to  strike  in  the  back ;  but  we  can  beat  her.  She 
did  not  count  on  my  helping  you — I,  who  know  her  so  well." 

Mason's  face  was  red,  and  his  eyes  burned.  In  the  midst 
of  it  all  he  dropped  his  hands  and  went  over  to  the  fire. 
Samuel  Walcott  arose,  panting,  and  stood  looking  at  Mason, 


Melville  Davisson  Post 

with  his  hands  behind  him  on  the  table.  The  naturally 
strong  nature  and  the  rigid  school  in  which  the  man  had 
been  trained  presently  began  to  tell.  His  composure  in  part 
returned  and  he  thought  rapidly.  What  did  this  strange 
man  know  ?  Was  he  simply  making  shrewd  guesses,  or  had 
he  some  mysterious  knowledge  of  this  matter?  Walcott 
could  not  know  that  Mason  meant  only  Fate,  that  he  be- 
lieved her  to  be  his  great  enemy.  Walcott  had  never  before 
doubted  his  own  ability  to  meet  any  emergency.  This  mighty 
jerk  had  carried  him  off  his  feet.  He  was  unstrung  and 
panic-stricken.  At  any  rate  this  man  had  promised  help. 
He  would  take  it.  He  put  the  paper  and  envelope  carefully 
into  his  pocket,  smoothed  out  his  rumpled  coat,  and  going 
over  to  Mason  touched  him  on  the  shoulder. 

"  Come,"  he  said,  "  if  you  are  to  help  me  we  must  go," 

The  man  turned  and  followed  him  without  a  word.  In 
the  hall  Mason  put  on  his  hat  and  overcoat,  and  the  two 
went  out  into  the  street.  Walcott  hailed  a  cab,  and  the 
two  were  driven  to  his  house  on  the  avenue,  Walcott  took 
out  his  latchkey,  opened  the  door,  and  led  the  way  into  the 
library.  He  turned  on  the  light  and  motioned  Mason  to 
seat  himself  at  the  table.  Then  he  went  into  another  room 
and  presently  returned  with  a  bundle  of  papers  and  a  de- 
canter of  brandy.  He  poured  out  a  glass  of  the  liquor  and 
offered  it  to  Mason,  The  man  shook  his  head.  Walcott 
poured  the  contents  of  the  glass  down  his  own  throat.  Then 
he  set  the  decanter  down  and  drew  up  a  chair  on  the  side 
of  the  table  opposite  Mason. 

"  Sir,"  said  Walcott,  in  a  voice  deliberate,  indeed,  but  as 
hollow  as  a  sepulcher,  "  I  am  done  for.  God  has  finally 
gathered  up  the  ends  of  the  net,  and  it  is  knotted  tight." 

"  Am  I  not  here  to  help  you  ?  "  said  Mason,  turning  sav- 
agely.   "  I  can  beat  Fate.    Give  me  the  details  of  her  trap." 

He  bent  forward  and  rested  his  arms  on  the  table.  His 
streaked  gray  hair  was  rumpled  and  on  end,  and  his  face 
was  ugly.  For  a  moment  Walcott  did  not  answer.  He 
moved  a  little  into  the  shadow;  then  he  spread  the  bundle 
of  old  yellow  papers  out  before  him, 


American  Mystery  Stories 

"  To  begin  with,"  he  said,  "  I  am  a  Hving  he,  a  gilded 
crime-made  sham,  every  bit  of  me.  There  is  not  an  honest 
piece  anywhere.  It  is  all  lie.  I  am  a  liar  and  a  thief  before 
men.  The  property  which  I  possess  is  not  mine,  but  stolen 
from  a  dead  man.  The  very  name  which  I  bear  is  not  my 
own,  but  is  the  bastard  child  of  a  crime.  I  am  more  than 
all  that — I  am  a  murderer ;  a  murderer  before  the  law ;  a 
murderer  before  God ;  and  worse  than  a  murderer  before 
the  pure  woman  whom  I  love  more  than  anything  that  God 
could  make." 

He  paused  for  a  moment  and  wiped  the  perspiration  from 
his  face, 

"  Sir,"  said  Mason,  "  this  is  all  drivel,  infantile  drivel. 
What  you  are  is  of  no  importance.  How  to  get  out  is  the 
problem,  how  to  get  out," 

Samuel  Walcott  leaned  forward,  poured  out  a  glass  of 
brandy  and  swallowed  it, 

"  Well,"  he  said,  speaking  slowly,  "  my  right  name  is 
Richard  Warren,  In  the  spring  of  1879  I  came  to  New 
York  and  fell  in  with  the  real  Samuel  Walcott,  a  young 
man  with  a  little  money  and  some  property  which  his  grand- 
father had  left  him.  We  became  friends,  and  concluded 
to  go  to  the  far  west  together.  Accordingly  we  scraped  to- 
gether what  money  we  could  lay  our  hands  on,  and  landed 
in  the  gold-mining  regions  of  California,  We  were  young 
and  inexperienced,  and  our  money  went  rapidly.  One  April 
morning  we  drifted  into  a  little  shack  camp,  away  up  in  the 
Sierra  Nevadas,  called  Hell's  Elbow,  Here  we  struggled 
and  starved  for  perhaps  a  year.  Finally,  in  utter  despera- 
tion, Walcott  married  the  daughter  of  a  Mexican  gambler, 
who  ran  an  eating  house  and  a  poker  joint.  With  them  we 
lived  from  hand  to  mouth  in  a  wild  God-forsaken  way  for 
several  years.  After  a  time  the  woman  began  to  take  a 
strange  fancy  to  me.  Walcott  finally  noticed  it,  and  grew 

"  One  night,  in  a  drunken  brawl,  we  quarreled,  and  I 
killed  him.  It  was  late  at  night,  and,  beside  the  woman, 
there  were   four  of  us  in  the  poker   room, — the   Mexican 


Melville  Davisson  Post 

gambler,  a  half-breed  devil  called  Cherubim  Pete,  Walcott, 
and  myself.  When  Walcott  fell,  the  half-breed  whipped 
out  his  weapon,  and  fired  at  me  across  the  table ;  but  the 
woman,  Nina  San  Croix,  struck  his  arm,  and,  instead  of 
killing  me,  as  he  intended,  the  bullet  mortally  wounded  her 
father,  the  Mexican  gambler.  I  shot  the  half-breed  through 
the  forehead,  and  turned  round,  expecting  the  woman  to 
attack  me.  On  the  contrary,  she  pointed  to  the  window, 
and  bade  me  wait  for  her  on  the  cross  trail  below. 

"  It  was  fully  three  hours  later  before  the  woman  joined 
me  at  the  place  indicated.  She  had  a  bag  of  gold  dust,  a 
few  jewels  that  belonged  to  her  father,  and  a  package  of 
papers.  I  asked  her  why  she  had  stayed  behind  so  long, 
and  she  replied  that  the  men  were  not  killed  outright,  and 
that  she  had  brought  a  priest  to  them  and  waited  until  they 
had  died.  This  was  the  truth,  but  not  all  the  truth.  Moved 
by  superstition  or  foresight,  the  woman  had  induced  the 
priest  to  take  down  the  sworn  statements  of  the  two  dying 
men,  seal  it,  and  give  it  to  her.  This  paper  she  brought 
with  her.  All  this  I  learned  afterwards.  At  the  time  I 
knew  nothing  of  this  damning  evidence. 

"  We  struck  out  together  for  the  Pacific  coast.  The  coun- 
try was  lawless.  The  privations  we  endured  were  almost 
past  belief.  At  times  the  woman  exhibited  cunning  and  abil- 
ity that  were  almost  genius ;  and  through  it  all,  often  in  the 
very  fingers  of  death,  her  devotion  to  me  never  wavered.  It 
was  doglike,  and  seemed  to  be  her  only  object  on  earth. 
When  we  reached  San  Francisco,  the  woman  put  these  pa- 
pers into  my  hands."  Walcott  took  up  the  yellow  package, 
and  pushed  it  across  the  table  to  Mason. 

"  She  proposed  that  I  assume  Walcott's  name,  and  that 
w^e  come  boldly  to  New  York  and  claim  the  property.  I 
examined  the  papers,  found  a  copy  of  the  will  by  which 
Walcott  inherited  the  property,  a  bundle  of  correspondence, 
and  sufficient  documentary  evidence  to  establish  his  identity 
beyond  the  shadow  of  a  doubt.  Desperate  gambler  as  I  now 
was,  I  quailed  before  the  daring  plan  of  Nina  San  Croix. 
I  urged  that  I,  Richard  Warren,  would  be  known,  that  the 


American  Mystery  Stories 

attempted  fraud  would  be  detected  and  would  result  in  in- 
vestigation, and  perhaps  unearth  the  whole  horrible  matter. 

"  The  woman  pointed  out  how  much  I  resembled  Walcott, 
what  vast  changes  ten  years  of  such  life  as  we  had  led 
w^ould  naturally  be  expected  to  make  in  men,  how  utterly 
impossible  it  would  be  to  trace  back  the  fraud  to  Walcott's 
murder  at  Hell's  Elbow,  in  the  wild  passes  of  the  Sierra 
Nevadas.  She  bade  me  remember  that  we  were  both  out- 
casts, both  crime-branded,  both  enemies  of  man's  law  and 
God's;  that  we  had  nothing  to  lose;  we  were  both  sunk  to 
the  bottom.  Then  she  laughed,  and  said  that  she  had  not 
found  me  a  coward  until  now,  but  that  if  I  had  turned 
chicken-hearted,  that  was  the  end  of  it,  of  course.  The  re- 
sult was,  we  sold  the  gold  dust  and  jewels  in  San  Francisco, 
took  on  such  evidences  of  civilization  as  possible,  and  pur- 
chased passage  to  New  York  on  the  best  steamer  we  could 

"  I  was  growing  to  depend  on  the  bold  gambler  spirit  of 
this  woman,  Nina  San  Croix ;  I  felt  the  need  of  her  strong, 
profligate  nature.  She  was  of  a  queer  breed  and  a  queerer 
school.  Her  mother  was  the  daughter  of  a  Spanish  engi- 
neer, and  had  been  stolen  by  the  Mexican,  her  father.  She 
herself  had  been  raised  and  educated  as  best  might  be  in 
one  of  the  monasteries  along  the  Rio  Grande,  and  had  there 
grown  to  womanhood  before  her  father,  fleeing  into  the 
mountains  of  California,  carried  her  with  him. 

"  When  we  landed  in  New  York  I  offered  to  announce 
her  as  my  wife,  but  she  refused,  saying  that  her  presence 
would  excite  comment  and  perhaps  attract  the  attention  of 
Walcott's  relatives.  We  therefore  arranged  that  I  should 
go  alone  into  the  city,  claim  the  property,  and  announce  my- 
self as  Samuel  Walcott,  and  that  she  should  remain  under 
cover  until  such  time  as  we  would  feel  the  ground  safe  un- 
der us. 

"  Every  detail  of  the  plan  was  fatally  successful.  I  estab- 
lished my  identity  without  difficulty  and  secured  the  property. 
It  had  increased  vastly  in  value,  and  I,  as  Samuel  Walcott, 
soon  found  myself  a  rich  man.     I  went  to  Nina  San  Croix 


Melville  Davis  son  Post 

in  hiding  and  gave  her  a  large  sum  of  money,  with  which 
she  purchased  a  residence  in  a  retired  part  of  the  city,  far 
up  in  the  northern  suburb.  Here  she  lived  secluded  and 
unknown  while  I  remained  in  the  city,  living  here  as  a 
wealthy  bachelor, 

"  I  did  not  attempt  to  abandon  the  woman,  but  went  to 
her  from  time  to  time  in  disguise  and  under  cover  of  the 
greatest  secrecy.  For  a  time  everything  ran  smooth,  the 
woman  was  still  devoted  to  me  above  everything  else,  and 
thought  always  of  my  welfare  first  and  seemed  content  to 
wait  so  long  as  I  thought  best.  My  business  expanded.  I 
was  sought  after  and  consulted  and  drawn  into  the  higher 
life  of  New  York,  and  more  and  more  felt  that  the  woman 
was  an  albatross  on  my  neck.  I  put  her  off  with  one  excuse 
after  another.  Finally  she  began  to  suspect  me  and  de- 
manded that  I  should  recognize  her  as  my  wife.  I  at- 
tempted to  point  out  the  difficulties.  She  met  them  all 
by  saying  that  we  should  both  go  to  Spain,  there  I  could 
marry  her  and  we  could  return  to  America  and  drop  into 
my  place  in  society  without  causing  more  than  a  passing 

"  I  concluded  to  meet  the  matter  squarely  once  for  all. 
I  said  that  I  would  convert  half  of  the  property  into  money 
and  give  it  to  her,  but  that  I  would  not  marry  her.  She 
did  not  fly  into  a  storming  rage  as  I  had  expected,  but  went 
quietly  out  of  the  room  and  presently  returned  with  two 
papers,  which  she  read.  One  was  the  certificate  of  her  mar- 
riage to  Walcott  duly  authenticated  ;  the  other  was  the  dying 
statement  of  her  father,  the  Mexican  gambler,  and  of  Sam- 
uel Walcott,  charging  me  with  murder.  It  was  in  proper 
form  and  certified  by  the  Jesuit  priest. 

"  '  Now,'  she  said,  sweetly,  when  she  had  finished,  *  which 
do  you  prefer,  to  recognize  your  wife,  or  to  turn  all  the 
property  over  to  Samuel  Walcott's  widow  and  hang  for  his 
murder? ' 

"  I  was  dumfounded  and  horrified.  I  saw  the  trap  that 
I  was  in  and  I  consented  to  do  anything  she  should  say  if 
she  would  only  destroy  the  papers.    This  she  refused  to  do. 


American  Mystery  Stories 

I  pleaded  with  her  and  implored  her  to  destroy  them. 
Finally  she  gave  them  to  me  with  a  great  show  of  returning 
confidence,  and  I  tore  them  into  bits  and  threw  them  into  the 

"  That  was  three  months  ago.  We  arranged  to  go  to 
Spain  and  do  as  she  said.  She  was  to  sail  this  morning  and 
I  was  to  follow.  Of  course  I  never  intended  to  go.  I  con- 
gratulated myself  on  the  fact  that  all  trace  of  evidence 
against  me  was  destroyed  and  that  her  grip  was  now  broken. 
My  plan  was  to  induce  her  to  sail,  believing  that  I  would 
follow.  When  she  was  gone  I  would  marry  Miss  St.  Clair, 
and  if  Nina  San  Croix  should  return  I  would  defy  her  and 
lock  her  up  as  a  lunatic.  But  I  was  reckoning  like  an  in- 
fernal ass,  to  imagine  for  a  moment  that  I  could  thus  hood- 
wink such  a  woman  as  Nina  San  Croix. 

"  To-night  I  received  this."  Walcott  took  the  envelope 
from  his  pocket  and  gave  it  to  Mason.  "  You  saw  the 
effect  of  it ;  read  it  and  you  will  understand  why.  I  felt  the 
death  hand  when  I  saw  her  writing  on  the  envelope." 

Mason  took  the  paper  from  the  envelope.  It  was  written 
in  Spanish,  and  ran : 

"  Greeting  to  Richard  Warren. 

"  The  great  Senor  does  his  little  Nina  injustice  to  think 
she  would  go  away  to  Spain  and  leave  him  to  the  beautiful 
American.  She  is  not  so  thoughtless.  Before  she  goes,  she 
shall  be,  Oh  so  very  rich !  and  the  dear  Seiior  shall  be,  Oh 
so  very  safe !  The  Archbishop  and  the  kind  Church  hate 

"  Nina  San  Croix. 

"  Of  course,  fool,  the  papers  you  destroyed  were  copies. 

"  N.  San  C." 

To  this  was  pinned  a  line  in  a  delicate  aristocratic  hand, 
saying  that  the  Archbishop  would  willingly  listen  to  Madam 
San  Croix's  statement  if  she  would  come  to  him  on  Friday 
morning  at  eleven. 

"  You  see,"  said  Walcott,  desperately,  "  there  is  no  pos- 


Melville  Davisson  Post 

sible  way  out.  I  know  the  woman — when  she  decides  to  do 
a  thing  that  is  the  end  of  it.    She  has  decided  to  do  this." 

Mason  turned  around  from  the  table,  stretched  out  his 
long  legs,  and  thrust  his  hands  deep  into  his  pockets.  Wal- 
cott  sat  with  his  head  down,  watching  Mason  hopelessly, 
almost  indifferently,  his  face  blank  and  sunken.  The  ticking 
of  the  bronze  clock  on  the  mantel  shelf  was  loud,  painfully 
loud.  Suddenly  Mason  drew  his  knees  in  and  bent  over, 
put  both  his  bony  hands  on  the  table,  and  looked  at  Walcott. 

"  Sir,"  he  said,  "  this  matter  is  in  such  shape  that  there 
is  only  one  thing  to  do.  This  growth  must  be  cut  out  at 
the  roots,  and  cut  out  quickly.  This  is  the  first  fact  to  be 
determined,  and  a  fool  would  know  it.  The  second  fact  is 
that  you  must  do  it  yourself.  Hired  killers  are  like  the  grave 
and  the  daughters  of  the  horse  leech, — they  cry  always, 
'  Give,  Give.'  They  are  only  palliatives,  not  cures.  By  using 
them  you  swap  perils.  You  simply  take  a  stay  of  execution 
at  best.  The  common  criminal  would  know  this.  These  are 
the  facts  of  your  problem.  The  master  plotters  of  crime 
would  see  here  but  two  difficulties  to  meet : 

"  A  practical  method  for  accomplishing  the  body  of  the 

"  A  cover  for  the  criminal  agent. 

"  They  would  see  no  farther,  and  attempt  to  guard  no 
farther.  After  they  had  provided  a  plan  for  the  killing,  and 
a  means  by  which  the  killer  could  cover  his  trail  and  escape 
from  the  theater  of  the  homicide,  they  would  believe  all  the 
requirements  of  the  problems  met,  and  would  stop.  The 
greatest,  the  very  giants  among  them,  have  stopped  here  and 
have  been  in  great  error. 

"  In  every  crime,  especially  i.f  the  great  ones,  there  exists 
a  third  element,  preeminently  vital.  This  third  element  the 
master  plotters  have  either  overlooked  or  else  have  not  had 
the  genius  to  construct.  They  plan  with  rare  cunning  to 
baffle  the  victim.  They  plan  with  vast  wisdom,  almost 
genius,  to  baffle  the  trailer.  But  they  fail  utterly  to  provide 
any  plan  for  baffling  the  punisher.  Ergo,  their  plots  are 
fatally  defective  and  often  result  in  ruin.     Hence  the  vital 


American  Mystery  Stories 

necessity  for  providing  the  third  element — the  escape  ipso 

Mason  arose,  walked  around  the  table,  and  put  his  hand 
firmly  on  Samuel  Walcott's  shoulder.  "  This  must  be  done 
to-morrow  night,"  he  continued ;  "  you  must  arrange  your 
business  matters  to-morrow  and  announce  that  you  are  go- 
ing on  a  yacht  cruise,  by  order  of  your  physician,  and  may 
not  return  for  some  weeks.  You  must  prepare  your  yacht 
for  a  voyage,  instruct  your  men  to  touch  at  a  certain  point 
on  Staten  Island,  and  wait  until  six  o'clock  day  after  to- 
morrow morning.  If  you  do  not  come  aboard  by  that  time, 
they  are  to  go  to  one  of  the  South  American  ports  and  re- 
main until  further  orders.  By  this  means  your  absence  for 
an  indefinite  period  will  be  explained.  You  will  go  to  Nina 
San  Croix  in  the  disguise  which  you  have  always  used,  and 
from  her  to  the  yacht,  and  by  this  means  step  out  of  your 
real  status  and  back  into  it  without  leaving  traces.  I  will 
come  here  to-morrow  evening  and  furnish  you  with  every- 
thing that  you  shall  need  and  give  you  full  and  exact  in- 
structions in  every  particular.  These  details  you  must  exe- 
cute with  the  greatest  care,  as  they  will  be  vitally  essential 
to  the  success  of  my  plan." 

Through  it  all  Walcott  had  been  silent  and  motionless. 
Now  he  arose,  and  in  his  face  there  must  have  been  some 
premonition  of  protest,  for  Mason  stepped  back  and  put  out 
his  hand.  "  Sir,"  he  said,  with  brutal  emphasis,  "  not  a 
word.  Remember  that  you  are  only  the  hand,  and  the  hand 
does  not  think."  Then  he  turned  around  abruptly  and  went 
out  of  the  house. 


The  place  which  Samuel  Walcott  had  selected  for  the 
residence  of  Nina  San  Croix  was  far  up  in  the  northern 
suburb  of  New  York.  The  place  was  very  old.  The  lawn 
was  large  and  ill  kept ;  the  house,  a  square  old-fashioned 
brick,  was  set  far  back  from  the  street,  and  partly  hidden 


Melville  Davisson  Post 

by  trees.  Around  it  all  was  a  rusty  iron  fence.  The  place 
had  the  air  of  genteel  ruin,  such  as  one  finds  in  the  Vir- 

On  a  Thursday  of  November,  about  three  o'clock  in  the 
afternoon,  a  little  man,  driving  a  dray,  stopped  in  the  alley 
at  the  rear  of  the  house.  As  he  opened  the  back  gate  an 
old  negro  woman  came  down  the  steps  from  the  kitchen 
and  demanded  to  know  what  he  wanted.  The  drayman 
asked  if  the  lady  of  the  house  was  in.  The  old  negro  an- 
swered that  she  was  asleep  at  this  hour  and  could  not  be 

"  That  is  good,"  said  the  little  man,  "  now  there  won't 
be  any  row.  I  brought  up  some  cases  of  wine  which  she 
ordered  from  our  house  last  week  and  which  the  Boss  told 
me  to  deliver  at  once,  but  I  forgot  it  until  to-day.  Just  let 
me  put  it  in  the  cellar  now.  Auntie,  and  don't  say  a  word 
to  the  lady  about  it  and  she  won't  ever  know  that  it  was  not 
brought  up  on  time." 

The  drayman  stopped,  fished  a  silver  dollar  out  of  his 
pocket,  and  gave  it  to  the  old  negro.  "  There  now.  Auntie," 
he  said,  "  my  job  depends  upon  the  lady  not  knowing  about 
this  wine;  keep  it  mum." 

"  Dat's  all  right,  honey,"  said  the  old  servant,  beaming 
like  a  May  morning.  "  De  cellar  door  is  open,  carry  it  all 
in  and  put  it  in  de  back  part  and  nobody  ain't  never  going 
to  know  how  long  it  has  been  in  dar." 

The  old  negro  went  back  into  the  kitchen  and  the  little 
man  began  to  unload  the  dray.  He  carried  in  five  wine 
cases  and  stowed  them  away  in  the  back  part  of  the  cellar 
as  the  old  woman  had  directed.  Then,  after  having  satisfied 
himself  that  no  one  was  watching,  he  took  from  the  dray 
two  heavy  paper  sacks,  presumably  filled  with  flour,  and  a 
little  bundle  wrapped  in  an  old  newspaper;  these  he  care- 
fully hid  behind  the  wine  cases  in  the  cellar.  After  awhile 
he  closed  the  door,  climbed  on  his  dray,  and  drove  ofif  down 
the  alley. 

About  eight  o'clock  in  the  evening  of  the  same  day,  a 
Mexican  sailor  dodged  in  the  front  gate  and  slipped  down 


American  Mystery  Stories 

to  th-e  side  of  the  house.  He  stopped  by  the  window  and 
tapped  on  it  with  his  finger.  In  a  moment  a  woman  opened 
the  door.  She  was  tall,  lithe,  and  splendidly  proportioned, 
with  a  dark  Spanish  face  and  straight  hair.  The  man 
stepped  inside.  The  woman  bolted  the  door  and  turned 

"  Ah,"  she  said,  smiling,  "  it  is  you,  Senor  ?  How  good 
of  you !  " 

The  man  started.  "  Whom  else  did  you  expect?  "  he  said 

"  Oh !  "  laughed  the  woman,  "  perhaps  the  Archbishop." 

"  Nina !  "  said  the  man,  in  a  broken  voice  that  expressed 
love,  humility,  and  reproach.  His  face  was  white  under  the 
black  sunburn. 

For  a  moment  the  woman  wavered.  A  shadow  flitted  over 
her  eyes,  then  she  stepped  back.    "  No,"  she  said,  "  not  yet." 

The  man  walked  across  to  the  fire,  sank  down  in  a  chair, 
and  covered  his  face  with  his  hands.  The  woman  stepped 
up  noiselessly  behind  him  and  leaned  over  the  chair.  The 
man  was  either  in  great  agony  or  else  he  was  a  superb  actor, 
for  the  muscles  of  his  neck  twitched  violently  and  his  shoul- 
ders trembled. 

"  Oh,"  he  muttered,  as  though  echoing  his  thoughts,  "  I 
can't  do  it,  I  can't !  " 

The  woman  caught  the  words  and  leaped  up  as  though 
some  one  had  struck  her  in  the  face.  She  threw  back  her 
head.     Her  nostrils  dilated  and  her  eyes  flashed. 

"  You  can't  do  it !  "  she  cried.  "  Then  you  do  love  her ! 
You  shall  do  it !  Do  you  hear  me  ?  You  shall  do  it !  You 
killed  him !  You  got  rid  of  him !  but  you  shall  not  get  rid 
of  me.  I  have  the  evidence,  all  of  it.  The  Archbishop  will 
have  it  to-morrow.  They  shall  hang  you !  Do  you  hear 
me  ?    They  shall  hang  you  !  " 

The  woman's  voice  rose,  it  was  loud  and  shrill.  The  man 
turned  slowly  round  without  looking  up,  and  stretched  out 
his  arms  toward  the  woman.  She  stopped  and  looked  down 
at  him.  The  fire  glittered  for  a  moment  and  then  died  out 
of  her  eyes,  her  bosom  heaved  and  her  lips  began  to  tremble. 


Melville  Davisson  Post 

With  a  cry  she  flung  herself  into  his  arms,  caught  him 
around  the  neck,  and  pressed  his  face  up  close  against  her 

"  Oh !  Dick,  Dick,"  she  sobbed,  "  I  do  love  you  so !  I 
can't  live  without  you  !  Not  another  hour,  Dick !  I  do  want 
you  so  much,  so  much,  Dick !  " 

The  man  shifted  his  right  arm  quickly,  slipped  a  great 
Mexican   knife   out  of  his   sleeve,  and   passed  his  fingers 
slowly  up  the  woman's  side  until  he  felt  the  heart  beat  under 
his  hand,  then  he  raised  the  knife,  gripped  the  handle  tight, 
and  drove  the  keen  blade  into  the  woman's  bosom.    The  hot 
blood  gushed  out  over  his  arm,  and  down  on  his  leg.    The 
body,  warm  and  limp,  slipped  down  in  his  arms.     The  man 
got  up,  pulled  out  the  knife,  and  thrust  it  into  a  sheath  at 
his  belt,  unbuttoned  the  dress,  and  slipped  it  off  of  the  body. 
As  he  did  this  a  bundle  of  papers  dropped  upon  the  floor ; 
these  he  glanced  at  hastily  and  put  into  his  pocket.     Then 
he  took  the  dead  woman  up  in  his  arms,  went  out  into  the 
hall,  and  started  to  go  up  the  stairway.    The  body  was  re- 
laxed and  heavy,  and  for  that  reason  difficult  to  carry.     He 
doubled  it  up  into  an  awful  heap,  with  the  knees  against 
the  chin,  and  walked  slowly  and  heavily  up  the  stairs  and 
out  into  the  bathroom.    There  he  laid  the  corpse  down  on 
the  tiled  floor.    Then  he  opened  the  window,  closed  the  shut- 
ters, and  lighted  the  gas.     The  bathroom  was  small  and 
contained  an  ordinary  steel  tub,  porcelain  lined,  standing 
near  the  window  and  raised  about  six  inches  above  the  floor. 
The  sailor  went  over  to  the  tub,  pried  up  the  metal  rim  of 
the  outlet  with  his  knife,  removed  it,  and  fitted  into  its  place 
a  porcelain  disk  which  he  took  from  his  pocket ;  to  this  disk 
was  attached  a  long  platinum  wire,  the  end  of  which  he 
fastened  on  the  outside  of  the  tub.    After  he  had  done  this 
he  went  back  to  the  body,  stripped  off  its  clothing,  put  it 
down  in  the  tub  and  began  to  dismember  it  with  the  great 
Mexican  knife.    The  blade  was  strong  and  sharp  as  a  razor. 
The  man  worked  rapidly  and  with  the  greatest  care. 

When  he  had  finally  cut  the  body  into  as  small  pieces  as 
possible,  he  replaced  the  knife  in  its  sheath,  washed  his 


American  Mystery  Stories 

hands,  and  went  out  of  the  bathroom  and  downstairs  to 
the  lower  hall.  The  sailor  seemed  perfectly  familiar  with 
the  house.  By  a  side  door  he  passed  into  the  cellar.  There 
he  lighted  the  gas,  opened  one  of  the  wine  cases,  and,  taking 
i:p  all  the  bottles  that  he  could  conveniently  carry,  returned 
to  the  bathroom.  There  he  poured  the  contents  into  the  tub 
on  the  dismembered  body,  and  then  returned  to  the  cellar 
with  the  empty  bottles,  which  he  replaced  in  the  wine  cases. 
This  he  continued  to  do  until  all  the  cases  but  one  were 
emptied  and  the  bath  tub  was  more  than  half  full  of  liquid. 
This  liquid  was  sulphuric  acid. 

When  the  sailor  returned  to  the  cellar  with  the  last  empty 
wine  bottles,  he  opened  the  fifth  case,  which  really  contained 
wine,  took  some  of  it  out,  and  poured  a  little  into  each  of 
the  empty  bottles  in  order  to  remove  any  possible  odor  of 
the  sulphuric  acid.  Then  he  turned  out  the  gas  and  brought 
up  to  the  bathroom  with  him  the  two  paper  flour  sacks  and 
the  little  heavy  bundle.  These  sacks  were  filled  with  nitrate 
of  soda.  He  set  them  down  by  the  door,  opened  the  little 
bundle,  and  took  out  two  long  rubber  tubes,  each  attached 
to  a  heavy  gas  burner,  not  unlike  the  ordinary  burners  of  a 
small  gas  stove.  He  fastened  the  tubes  to  two  of  the  gas 
jets,  put  the  burners  under  the  tub,  turned  the  gas  on  full, 
and  lighted  it.  Then  he  threw  into  the  tub  the  woman's 
clothing  and  the  papers  which  he  had  found  on  her  body, 
after  which  he  took  up  the  two  heavy  sacks  of  nitrate  of 
soda  and  dropped  them  carefully  into  the  sulphuric  acid. 
When  he  had  done  this  he  went  quickly  out  of  the  bath- 
room and  closed  the  door. 

The  deadly  acids  at  once  attacked  the  body  and  began  to 
destroy  it;  as  the  heat  increased,  the  acids  boiled  and  the 
destructive  process  was  rapid  and  awful.  From  time  to  time 
the  sailor  opened  the  door  of  the  bathroom  cautiously,  and, 
holding  a  wet  towel  over  his  mouth  and  nose,  looked  in  at 
his  horrible  work.  At  the  end  of  a  few  hours  there  was 
only  a  swimming  mass  in  the  tub.  When  the  man  looked 
at  four  o'clock,  it  was  all  a  thick  murky  liquid.  He  turned 
off  the  gas  quickly  and  stepped  back  out  of  the  room.    For 


Melville  Davisson  Post 

perhaps  half  an  hour  he  waited  in  the  hall ;  finally,  when 
the  acids  had  cooled  so  that  they  no  longer  gave  off  fumes, 
he  opened  the  door  and  went  in,  took  hold  of  the  platinum 
wire  and,  pulling  the  porcelain  disk  from  the  stopcock, 
allowed  the  awful  contents  of  the  tub  to  run  out.  Then  he 
turned  on  the  hot  water,  rinsed  the  tub  clean,  and  replaced 
the  metal  outlet.  Removing  the  rubber  tubes,  he  cut  them 
into  pieces,  broke  the  porcelain  disk,  and,  rolling  up  the 
platinum  wire,  washed  it  all  down  the  sewer  pipe. 

The  fumes  had  escaped  through  the  open  window;  this 
he  now  closed  and  set  himself  to  putting  the  bathroom  in 
order,  and  effectually  removing  every  trace  of  his  night's 
work.  The  sailor  moved  around  with  the  very  greatest  de- 
gree of  care.  Finally,  when  he  had  arranged  everything  to 
his  complete  satisfaction,  he  picked  up  the  two  burners, 
turned  out  the  gas,  and  left  the  bathroom,  closing  the  door 
after  him.  From  the  bathroom  he  went  directly  to  the  attic, 
concealed  the  two  rusty  burners  under  a  heap  of  rubbish, 
and  then  walked  carefully  and  noiselessly  down  the  stairs 
and  through  the  lower  hall.  As  he  opened  the  door  and 
stepped  into  the  room  where  he  had  killed  the  woman,  two 
police  officers  sprang  out  and  seized  him.  The  man  screamed 
like  a  wild  beast  taken  in  a  trap  and  sank  down. 

"  Oh !  oh !  "  he  cried,  "  it  was  no  use !  it  was  no  use  to  do 
it !  "  Then  he  recovered  himself  in  a  manner  and  was  silent. 
The  officers  handcuffed  him,  summoned  the  patrol,  and  took 
him  at  once  to  the  station  house.  There  he  said  he  was  a 
Mexican  sailor  and  that  his  name  was  Victor  Ancona ;  but 
he  would  say  nothing  further.  The  following  morning  he 
sent  for  Randolph  Mason  and  the  two  were  long  together. 


The  obscure  defendant  charged  with  murder  has  little 
reason  to  complain  of  the  law's  delays.  The  morning  fol- 
lowing the  arrest  of  Victor  Ancona,  the  newspapers  pub- 
lished long  sensational  articles,  denounced  him  as  a  fiend, 


American  Mysterv  Stories 

and  convicted  him.  The  grand  jury,  as  it  happened,  was  in 
session.  The  prehminaries  were  soon  arranged  and  the  case 
was  railroaded  into  trial.  The  indictment  contained  a  great 
many  counts,  and  charged  the  prisoner  with  the  murder  of 
Nina  San  Croix  by  striking,  stabbing,  choking,  poisoning, 
and  so  forth. 

The  trial  had  continued  for  three  days  and  had  appeared 
so  overwhelmingly  one-sided  that  the  spectators  who  were 
crowded  in  the  court  room  had  grown  to  be  violent  and  bitter 
partisans,  to  such  an  extent  that  the  police  watched  them 
closely.  The  attorneys  for  the  People  were  dramatic  and 
denunciatory,  and  forced  their  case  with  arrogant  confidence. 
Mason,  as  counsel  for  the  prisoner,  was  indifferent  and  list- 
less. Throughout  the  entire  trial  he  had  sat  almost  motion- 
less at  the  table,  his  gaunt  form  bent  over,  his  long  legs 
drawn  up  under  his  chair,  and  his  weary,  heavy-muscled 
face,  with  its  restless  eyes,  fixed  and  staring  out  over  the 
heads  of  the  jury,  was  like  a  tragic  mask.  The  bar,  and 
even  the  judge,  believed  that  the  prisoner's  counsel  had  aban- 
doned his  case. 

The  evidence  was  all  in  and  the  People  rested.  It  had 
been  shown  that  Nina  San  Croix  had  resided  for  many  years 
in  the  house  in  which  the  prisoner  was  arrested ;  that  she 
had  lived  by  herself,  with  no  other  companion  than  an  old 
negro  servant ;  that  her  past  was  unknown,  and  that  she 
received  no  visitors,  save  the  Mexican  sailor,  who  came  to 
her  house  at  long  intervals.  Nothing  whatever  was  shown 
tending  to  explain  who  the  prisoner  was  or  whence  he  had 
come.  It  was  shown  that  on  Tuesday  preceding  the  killing 
the  Archbishop  had  received  a  communication  from  Nina 
San  Croix,  in  which  she  said  she  desired  to  make  a  statement 
of  the  greatest  import,  and  asking  for  an  audience.  To  this 
the  Archbishop  replied  that  he  would  willingly  grant  her 
a  hearing  if  she  would  come  to  him  at  eleven  o'clock  on 
Friday  morning.  Two  policemen  testified  that  about  eight 
o'clock  on  the  night  of  Thursday  they  had  noticed  the  pris- 
oner slip  into  the  gate  of  Nina  San  Croix's  residence  and 
go  down  to  the  side  of  the  house,  where  he  was  admitted ; 


Melville  Davisson  Post 

that  his  appearance  and  seeming  haste  had  attracted  their 
attention ;  that  they  had  concluded  that  it  was  some  clandes- 
tine amour,  and  out  of  curiosity  had  both  slipped  down  to 
the  house  and  endeavored  to  find  a  position  from  which  they 
could  see  into  the  room,  but  were  unable  to  do  so,  and  were 
about  to  go  back  to  the  street  when  they  heard  a  woman's 
voice  cry  out  in  great  anger :  "  I  know  that  you  love  her 
and  that  you  want  to  get  rid  of  me,  but  you  shall  not  do  it ! 
You  murdered  him,  but  you  shall  not  murder  me!  I  have 
all  the  evidence  to  convict  you  of  murdering  him !  The 
Archbishop  will  have  it  to-morrow !  They  shall  hang  you ! 
Do  you  hear  me  ?  They  shall  hang  you  for  this  murder !  " 
that  thereupon  one  of  the  policemen  proposed  that  they 
should  break  into  the  house  and  see  what  was  wrong,  but 
the  other  had  urged  that  it  was  only  the  usual  lovers'  quar- 
rel and  if  they  should  interfere  they  would  find  nothing  upon 
which  a  charge  could  be  based  and  would  only  be  laughed 
at  by  the  chief ;  that  they  had  waited  and  listened  for  a  time, 
but  hearing  nothing  further  had  gone  back  to  the  street 
and  contented  themselves  with  keeping  a  strict  watch  on  the 

The  People  proved  further,  that  on  Thursday  evening 
Nina  San  Croix  had  given  the  old  negro  domestic  a  sum  of 
money  and  dismissed  her,  with  the  instruction  that  she  was 
not  to  return  until  sent  for.  The  old  woman  testified  that 
she  had  gone  directly  to  the  house  of  her  son,  and  later  had 
discovered  that  she  had  forgotten  some  articles  of  clothing 
which  she  needed ;  that  thereupon  she  had  returned  to  the 
house  and  had  gone  up  the  back  way  to  her  room, — this  was 
about  eight  o'clock ;  that  while  there  she  had  heard  Nina 
San  Croix's  voice  in  great  passion  and  remembered  that  she 
had  used  the  words  stated  by  the  policemen ;  that  these  sud- 
den, violent  cries  had  frightened  her  greatly  and  she  had 
bolted  the  door  and  been  afraid  to  leave  the  room ;  shortly 
thereafter,  she  had  heard  heavy  footsteps  ascending  the 
stairs,  slowly  and  with  great  difficulty,  as  though  some  one 
were  carrying  a  heavy  burden ;  that  therefore  her  fear  had 
increased  and  that  she  had  put  out  the  light  and  hidden 


American  Mystery  Stories 

under  the  bed.  She  remembered  hearing  the  footsteps  mov- 
ing about  upstairs  for  many  hours,  how  long  she  could  not 
tell.  Finally,  about  half-past  four  in  the  morning,  she  crept 
out,  opened  the  door,  slipped  downstairs,  and  ran  out  into 
the  street.  There  she  had  found  the  policemen  and  re- 
quested them  to  search  the  house. 

The  two  officers  had  gone  to  the  house  with  the  woman. 
She  had  opened  the  door  and  they  had  had  just  time  to  step 
back  into  the  shadow  when  the  prisoner  entered.  When  ar- 
rested, Victor  Ancona  had  screamed  with  terror,  and  cried 
out,  "  It  was  no  use !  it  was  no  use  to  do  it !  " 

The  Chief  of  Police  had  come  to  the  house  and  instituted 
a  careful  search.  In  the  room  below,  from  which  the  cries 
had  come,  he  found  a  dress  which  was  identified  as  belong- 
ing to  Nina  San  Croix  and  which  she  was  wearing  when 
last  seen  by  the  domestic,  about  six  o'clock  that  evening. 
This  dress  was  covered  with  blood,  and  had  a  slit  about  two 
inches  long  in  the  left  side  of  the  bosom,  into  which  the 
Mexican  knife,  found  on  the  prisoner,  fitted  perfectly.  These 
articles  were  introduced  in  evidence,  and  it  was  shown  that 
the  slit  would  be  exactly  over  the  heart  of  the  wearer,  and 
that  such  a  wound  would  certainly  result  in  death.  There 
was  much  blood  on  one  of  the  chairs  and  on  the  floor. 
There  was  also  blood  on  the  prisoner's  coat  and  the  leg 
of  his  trousers,  and  the  heavy  Mexican  knife  was  also 
bloody.  The  blood  was  shown  by  the  experts  to  be  human 

The  body  of  the  woman  was  not  found,  and  the  most 
rigid  and  tireless  search  failed  to  develop  the  slightest  trace 
of  the  corpse,  or  the  manner  of  its  disposal.  The  body  of 
the  woman  had  disappeared  as  completely  as  though  it  had 
vanished  into  the  air. 

When  counsel  announced  that  he  had  closed  for  the 
People,  the  judge  turned  and  looked  gravely  down  at  Mason. 
"  Sir,"  he  said,  "  the  evidence  for  the  defense  may  now  be 

Randolph  Mason  arose  slowly  and  faced  the  judge. 

"If  your  Honor  please,"  he  said,  speaking  slowly  and  dis- 


Melville  Davisson  Post 

tinctly,  "  the  defendant  has  no  evidence  to  offer."  He 
paused  while  a  murmur  of  astonishment  ran  over  the  court 
room.  "  But,  if  your  Honor  please,"  he  continued,  "  I  move 
that  the  jury  be  directed  to  find  the  prisoner  not  guilty." 

The  crowd  stirred.  The  counsel  for  the  People  smiled. 
The  judge  looked  sharply  at  the  speaker  over  his  glasses. 
"  On  what  ground  ?  "  he  said  curtly. 

"  On  the  ground,"  repUed  Mason,  "  that  the  corpus  delicti 
has  not  been  proven." 

"  Ah!  "  said  the  judge,  for  once  losing  his  judicial  gravity. 

Mason  sat  down  abruptly.  The  senior  counsel  for  the 
prosecution  was  on  his  feet  in  a  moment. 

"  What!  "  he  said,  "  the  gentleman  bases  his  motion  on  a 
failure  to  establish  the  corpus  delicti?  Does  he  jest,  or  has 
he  forgotten  the  evidence?  The  term  'corpus  delicti^  is 
technical,  and  means  the  body  of  the  crime,  or  the  substan- 
tial fact  that  a  crime  has  been  committed.  Does  anyone 
doubt  it  in  this  case?  It  is  true  that  no  one  actually  saw 
the  prisoner  kill  the  decedent,  and  that  he  has  so  success- 
fully hidden  the  body  that  it  has  not  been  found,  but  the 
powerful  chain  of  circumstances,  clear  and  close-linked, 
proving  motive,  the  criminal  agency,  and  the  criminal  act, 
is  overwhelming. 

"  The  victim  in  this  case  is  on  the  eve  of  making  a  state- 
ment that  would  prove  fatal  to  the  prisoner.  The  night  be- 
fore the  statement  is  to  be  made  he  goes  to  her  residence. 
They  quarrel.  Her  voice  is  heard,  raised  high  in  the  greatest 
passion,  denouncing  him,  and  charging  that  he  is  a  mur- 
derer, that  she  has  the  evidence  and  will  reveal  it,  that  he 
shall  be  hanged,  and  that  he  shall  not  be  rid  of  her.  Here 
is  the  motive  for  the  crime,  clear  as  Hght.  Are  not  the 
bloody  knife,  the  bloody  dress,  the  bloody  clothes  of  the 
prisoner,  unimpeachable  witnesses  to  the  criminal  act  ?  The 
criminal  agency  of  the  prisoner  has  not  the  shadow  of  a 
possibility  to  obscure  it.  His  motive  is  gigantic.  The 
blood  on  him,  and  his  despair  when  arrested,  cry  *  Murder! 
murder ! '  with  a  thousand  tongues. 

"  Men  may  lie,  but  circumstances  cannot.    The  thousand 


American  Mystery  Stories 

hopes  and  fears  and  passions  of  men  may  delude,  or  bias 
the  witness.  Yet  it  is  beyond  the  human  mind  to  conceive 
that  a  clear,  complete  chain  of  concatenated  circumstances 
can  be  in  error.  Hence  it  is  that  the  greatest  jurists  have 
declared  that  such  evidence,  being  rarely  liable  to  delusion 
or  fraud,  is  safest  and  most  powerful.  The  machinery  of 
human  justice  cannot  guard  against  the  remote  and  im- 
probable doubt.  The  inference  is  persistent  in  the  afifairs 
of  men.  It  is  the  only  means  by  which  the  human  mind 
reaches  the  truth.  If  you  forbid  the  jury  to  exercise  it,  you 
bid  them  work  after  first  striking  ofT  their  hands.  Rule  out 
the  irresistible  inference,  and  the  end  of  justice  is  come  in 
this  land;  and  you  may  as  well  leave  the  spider  to  weave 
his  web  through  the  abandoned  court  room." 

The  attorney  stopped,  looked  down  at  Mason  with  a  pom- 
pous sneer,  and  retired  to  his  place  at  the  table.  The  judge 
sat  thoughtful  and  motionless.  The  jurymen  leaned  for- 
ward in  their  seats. 

"  If  your  Honor  please,"  said  Mason,  rising,  "  this  is  a 
matter  of  law,  plain,  clear,  and  so  well  settled  in  the  State 
of  New  York  that  even  counsel  for  the  People  should  know 
it.  The  question  before  your  Honor  is  simple.  If  the  cor- 
pus delicti,  the  body  of  the  crime,  has  been  proven,  as  re- 
quired by  the  laws  of  the  commonwealth,  then  this  case 
should  go  to  the  jury.  If  not,  then  it  is  the  duty  of  this 
Court  to  direct  the  jury  to  find  the  prisoner  not  guilty. 
There  is  here  no  room  for  judicial  discretion.  Your  Honor 
has  but  to  recall  and  apply  the  rigid  rule  announced  by  our 
courts  prescribing  distinctly  how  the  corpus  delicti  in  murder 
must  be  proven. 

"  The  prisoner  here  stands  charged  with  the  highest 
crime.  The  law  demands,  first,  that  the  crime,  as  a  fact, 
be  established.  The  fact  that  the  victim  is  indeed  dead 
must  first  be  made  certain  before  anyone  can  be  convicted 
for  her  killing,  because,  so  long  as  there  remains  the  re- 
motest doubt  as  to  the  death,  there  can  be  no  certainty  as 
to  the  criminal  agent,  although  the  circumstantial  evidence 
indicating  the  guilt  of  the  accused  may  be  positive,  com- 


Melville  Davisson  Post 

plete,  and  utterly  irresistible.  In  murder,  the  corpus  delicti, 
or  body  of  the  crime,  is  composed  of  two  elements : 

'*  Death,  as  a  result. 

"  The  criminal  agency  of  another  as  the  means. 

"  It  is  the  fixed  and  immutable  law  of  this  State,  laid 
down  in  the  leading  case  of  Ruloff  z>.  The  People,  and  bind- 
ing upon  this  Court,  that  both  components  of  the  corpus 
delicti  shall  not  be  established  by  circumstantial  evidence. 
There  must  be  direct  proof  of  one  or  the  other  of  these 
two  component  elements  of  the  corpus  delicti.  If  one  is 
proven  by  direct  evidence,  the  other  may  be  presumed; 
but  both  shall  not  be  presumed  from  circumstances,  no  mat- 
ter how  powerful,  how  cogent,  or  how  completely  over- 
whelming the  circumstances  may  be.  In  other  words,  no 
man  can  be  convicted  of  murder  in  the  State  of  New  York, 
unless  the  body  of  the  victim  be  found  and  identified,  or 
there  be  direct  proof  that  the  prisoner  did  some  act  ade- 
quate to  produce  death,  and  did  it  in  such  a  manner  as  to 
account  for  the  disappearance  of  the  body." 

The  face  of  the  judge  cleared  and  grew  hard.  The  mem- 
bers of  the  bar  were  attentive  and  alert;  they  were  begin- 
ning to  see  the  legal  escape  open  up.  The  audience  were 
puzzled ;  they  did  not  yet  understand.  Mason  turned  to  the 
counsel  for  the  People.  His  ugly  face  was  bitter  with  con- 

"  For  three  days,"  he  said,  "  I  have  been  tortured  by  this 
useless  and  expensive  farce.  If  counsel  for  the  People  had 
been  other  than  play-actors,  they  would  have  known  in  the 
beginning  that  Victor  Ancona  could  not  be  convicted  for 
murder,  unless  he  were  confronted  in  this  court  room  with 
a  living  witness,  who  had  looked  into  the  dead  face  of  Nina 
San  Croix;  or,  if  not  that,  a  living  witness  who  had  seen 
him  drive  the  dagger  into  her  bosom. 

"  I  care  not  if  the  circumstantial  evidence  in  this  case 
were  so  strong  and  irresistible  as  to  be  overpowering;  if 
the  judge  on  the  bench,  if  the  jury,  if  every  man  within 
sound  of  my  voice,  were  convinced  of  the  guilt  of  the  pris- 
oner to  the  degree  of  certainty  that  is  absolute;  if  the  cir- 


American  Mystery  Stories' 

cumstantial  evidence  left  in  the  mind  no  shadow  of  the 
remotest  improbable  doubt;  yet,  in  the  absence  of  the  eye- 
witness, this  prisoner  cannot  be  punished,  and  this  Court 
must  compel  the  jury  to  acquit  him." 

The  audience  now  understood,  and  they  were  dum- 
founded.  Surely  this  was  not  the  law.  They  had  been 
taught  that  the  law  was  common  sense,  and  this, — this  was 
anything  else. 

Alason  saw  it  all,  and  grinned.  "  In  its  tenderness,"  he 
sneered,  "  the  law  shields  the  innocent.  The  good  law  of 
New  York  reaches  out  its  hand  and  lifts  the  prisoner  out 
of  the  clutches  of  the  fierce  jury  that  would  hang  him." 

Mason  sat  down.  The  room  was  silent.  The  jurymen 
looked  at  each  other  in  amazement.  The  counsel  for  the 
People  arose.  His  face  was  white  with  anger,  and  in- 

"  Your  Honor,"  he  said,  "  this  doctrine  is  monstrous. 
Can  it  be  said  that,  in  order  to  evade  punishment,  the  mur- 
derer has  only  to  hide  or  destroy  the  body  of  the  victim,  or 
sink  it  into  the  sea?  Then,  if  he  is  not  seen  to  kill,  the  law 
is  powerless  and  the  murderer  can  snap  his  finger  in  the 
face  of  retributive  justice.  If  this  is  the  law,  then  the  law 
for  the  highest  crime  is  a  dead  letter.  The  great  common- 
wealth winks  at  murder  and  invites  every  man  to  kill  his 
enemy,  provided  he  kill  him  in  secret  and  hide  him.  I  re- 
peat, your  Honor," — the  man's  voice  was  now  loud  and 
angry  and  rang  through  the  court  room — "  that  this  doc- 
trine is  monstrous!" 

"  So  said  Best,  and  Story,  and  many  another,"  muttered 
Mason,  "  and  the  law  remained." 

"  The  Court,"  said  the  judge,  abruptly,  "  desires  no  fur- 
ther argument." 

The  counsel  for  the  People  resumed  his  seat.  His  face 
lighted  up  with  triumph.  The  Court  was  going  to  sustain 

The  judge  turned  and  looked  down  at  the  jury.  He  was 
grave,  and  spoke  with  deliberate  emphasis. 

"  Gentlemen  of  the  jury,"  he  said,  "  the  rule  of  Lord  Hale 


Melville  Davisson  Post 

obtains  in  this  State  and  is  binding  upon  me.  It  is  the  law 
as  stated  by  counsel  for  the  prisoner:  that  to  warrant  con- 
viction of  murder  there  must  be  direct  proof  either  of  the 
death,  as  of  the  finding  and  identification  of  the  corpse,  or 
of  criminal  violence  adequate  to  produce  death,  and  ex- 
erted in  such  a  manner  as  to  account  for  the  disappearance 
of  the  body;  and  it  is  only  when  there  is  direct  proof  of  the 
one  that  the  other  can  be  estabhshed  by  circumstantial  evi- 
dence. This  is  the  law,  and  cannot  now  be  departed  from. 
I  do  not  presume  to  explain  its  wisdom.  Chief-Justice 
Johnson  has  observed,  in  the  leading  case,  that  it  may  have 
its  probable  foundation  in  the  idea  that  where  direct  proof 
is  absent  as  to  both  the  fact  of  the  death  and  of  criminal 
violence  capable  of  producing  death,  no  evidence  can  rise 
to  the  degree  of  moral  certainty  that  the  individual  is  dead 
by  criminal  intervention,  or  even  lead  by  direct  inference 
to  this  result;  and  that,  where  the  fact  of  death  is  not  cer- 
tainly ascertained,  all  inculpatory  circumstantial  evidence 
wants  the  key  necessary  for  its  satisfactory  interpretation, 
and  cannot  be  depended  on  to  furnish  more  than  probable 
results.  It  may  be,  also,  that  such  a  rule  has  some  refer- 
ence to  the  dangerous  possibility  that  a  general  preconcep- 
tion of  guilt,  or  a  general  excitement  of  popular  feeling, 
may  creep  in  to  supply  the  place  of  evidence,  if,  upon  other 
than  direct  proof  of  death  or  a  cause  of  death,  a  jury  are 
permitted  to  pronounce  a  prisoner  guilty. 

"  In  this  case  the  body  has  not  been  found  and  there  is 
no  direct  proof  of  criminal  agency  on  the  part  of  the  pris- 
oner, although  the  chain  of  circumstantial  evidence  is  com- 
plete and  irresistible  in  the  highest  degree.  Nevertheless, 
it  is  all  circumstantial  evidence,  and  under  the  laws  of  New 
York  the  prisoner  cannot  be  punished.  I  have  no  right 
of  discretion.  The  law  does  not  permit  a  conviction  in  this 
case,  although  every  one  of  us  may  be  morally  certain  of 
the  prisoner's  guilt.  I  am,  therefore,  gentlemen  of  the 
jury,  compelled  to  direct  you  to  find  the  prisoner  not 

"Judge,"  interrupted  the  foreman,  jumping  up  in  the 


American  Mystery  Stories 

box,  "  we  cannot  find  that  verdict  under  our  oath;  we  know 
that  this  man  is  guilty." 

**  Sir,"  said  the  judge,  "  this  is  a  matter  of  law  in  which 
the  wishes  of  the  jury  cannot  be  considered.  The  clerk 
will  write  a  verdict  of  not  guilty,  which  you,  as  foreman, 
will  sign." 

The  spectators  broke  out  into  a  threatening  murmur  that 
began  to  grow  and  gather  volume.  The  judge  rapped  on 
his  desk  and  ordered  the  bailiffs  promptly  to  suppress  any 
demonstration  on  the  part  of  the  audience.  Then  he  di- 
rected the  foreman  to  sign  the  verdict  prepared  by  the  clerk. 
When  this  was  done  he  turned  to  Victor  Ancona;  his  face 
was  hard  and  there  was  a  cold  glitter  in  his  eyes. 

"  Prisoner  at  the  bar,"  he  said,  "  you  have  been  put  to 
trial  before  this  tribunal  on  a  charge  of  cold-blooded  and 
atrocious  murder.  The  evidence  produced  against  you 
was  of  such  powerful  and  overwhelming  character  that 
it  seems  to  have  left  no  doubt  in  the  minds  of  the  jury, 
nor  indeed  in  the  mind  of  any  person  present  in  this 
court  room. 

"  Had  the  question  of  your  guilt  been  submitted  to  these 
twelve  arbiters,  a  conviction  would  certainly  have  resulted 
and  the  death  penalty  would  have  been  imposed.  But  the 
law,  rigid,  passionless,  even-eyed,  has  thrust  in  between  you 
and  the  wrath  of  your  fellows  and  saved  you  from  it.  I  do 
not  cry  out  against  the  impotency  of  the  law;  it  is  perhaps 
as  wise  as  imperfect  humanity  could  make  it.  I  deplore, 
rather,  the  genius  of  evil  men  who,  by  cunning  design,  are 
enabled  to  slip  through  the  fingers  of  this  law.  I  have  no 
word  of  censure  or  admonition  for  you,  Victor  Ancona. 
The  law  of  New  York  compels  me  to  acquit  you.  I  am 
only  its  mouthpiece,  with  my  individual  wishes  throttled. 
I  speak  only  those  things  which  the  law  directs  I  shall 

"  You  are  now  at  liberty  to  leave  this  court  room,  not 
guiltless  of  the  crime  of  murder,  perhaps,  but  at  least  rid 
of  its  punishment.  The  eyes  of  men  may  see  Cain's  mark 
on  your  brow,  but  the  eyes  of  the  Law  are  blind  to  it." 


Melville  Davisson  Post 

When  the  audience  fully  realized  what  the  judge  had 
said  they  were  amazed  and  silent.  They  knew  as  well  as 
men  could  know,  that  Victor  Ancona  was  guilty  of  murder, 
and  yet  he  was  now  going  out  of  the  court  room  free. 
Could  it  happen  that  the  law  protected  only  against  the 
blundering  rogue?  They  had  heard  always  of  the  boasted 
completeness  of  the  law  which  magistrates  from  time  im- 
memorial had  labored  to  perfect,  and  now  when  the  skillful 
villain  sought  to  evade  it,  they  saw  how  weak  a  thing  it 


The  wedding  march  of  Lohengrin  floated  out  from  the 
Episcopal  Church  of  St.  Mark,  clear  and  sweet,  and  perhaps 
heavy  with  its  paradox  of  warning.  The  theater  of  this 
coming  contract  before  high  heaven  was  a  wilderness  of 
roses  worth  the  taxes  of  a  county.  The  high  caste  of  Man- 
hattan, by  the  grace  of  the  check  book,  were  present, 
clothed  in  Parisian  purple  and  fine  linen,  cunningly  and 
marvelously  wrought. 

Over  in  her  private  pew,  ablaze  with  jewels,  and  decked 
with  fabrics  from  the  deft  hand  of  many  a  weaver,  sat  Mrs. 
Miriam  Steuvisant  as  imperious  and  self-complacent  as  a 
queen.  To  her  it  was  all  a  kind  of  triumphal  procession, 
proclaiming  her  ability  as  a  general.  With  her  were  a 
choice  few  of  the  genus  homo,  which  obtains  at  the  five- 
o'clock  teas,  instituted,  say  the  sages,  for  the  purpose  of 
sprinkling  the  holy  water  of  Lethe. 

"  Czarina,"  whispered  Reggie  Du  Puyster,  leaning  for- 
ward, "  I  salute  you.    The  ceremony  stib  jugum  is  superb." 

"  Walcott  is  an  excellent  fellow,"  answered  Mrs.  Steuvi- 
sant; "  not  a  vice,  you  know,  Reggie." 

"  Aye,  Empress,"  put  in  the  others,  "  a  purist  taken  in 
the  net.  The  clean-skirted  one  has  come  to  the  altar.  Vive 
la  vertu!  " 

Samuel  Walcott,  still  sunburned  from  his  cruise,  stood 
before  the  chancel  with  the  only  daughter  of  the  blue- 


American  Mystery  Stories 

blooded  St.  Clairs.  His  face  was  clear  and  honest  and  his 
voice  firm.  This  was  life  and  not  romance.  The  lid  of  the 
sepulcher  had  closed  and  he  had  slipped  from  under  it. 
And  now,  and  ever  after,  the  hand  red  with  murder  was 
clean  as  any. 

The  minister  raised  his  voice,  proclaiming  the  holy  union 
before  God,  and  this  twain,  half  pure,  half  foul,  now  by 
divine  ordinance  one  flesh,  bowed  down  before  it.  No  blood 
cried  from  the  ground.  The  sunlight  of  high  noon  streamed 
down  through  the  window  panes  like  a  benediction. 

Back  in  the  pew  of  Mrs.  Miriam  Steuvisant,  Reggie  Du 
Puyster  turned  down  his  thumb.     "  Habetl"  he  said. 
From  "  The  Strange  Schemes  of  Randolph  Mason,"   by 
Melville  Davisson  Post.    Copyright,  1896,  by  G.  P.  Put- 
nam's Sons. 


Ambrose   Bierce 
An  Heiress  from  Redhorse 

CoRONADO,  June  20th. 

T  FIND  myself  more  and  more  interested  in  him.  It  is 
not,  I  am  sure,  his — do  you  know  any  noun  corre- 
sponding to  the  adjective  "  handsome  "  ?  One  does  not  like 
to  say  "  beauty  "  when  speaking  of  a  man.  He  is  handsome 
enough,  heaven  knows ;  I  should  not  even  care  to  trust  you 
with  him — faithful  of  all  possible  wives  that  you  are — when 
he  looks  his  best,  as  he  always  does.  Nor  do  I  think  the 
fascination  of  his  manner  has  much  to  do  with  it.  You 
recollect  that  the  charm  of  art  inheres  in  that  which  is  un- 
definable,  and  to  you  and  me,  my  dear  Irene,  I  fancy  there 
is  rather  less  of  that  in  the  branch  of  art  under  considera- 
tion than  to  girls  in  their  first  season.  I  fancy  I  know  how 
my  fine  gentleman  produces  many  of  his  efifects,  and  could, 
perhaps,  give  him  a  pointer  on  heightening  them.  Never- 
theless, his  manner  is  something  truly  delightful.  I  sup- 
pose what  interests  me  chiefly  is  the  man's  brains.  His 
conversation  is  the  best  I  have  ever  heard,  and  altogether 
unlike  anyone's  else.  He  seems  to  know  everything,  as,  in- 
deed, he  ought,  for  he  has  been  everywhere,  read  every- 
thing, seen  all  there  is  to  see — sometimes  I  think  rather 
more  than  is  good  for  him — and  had  acquaintance  with  the 
queerest  people.  And  then  his  voice — Irene,  when  I  hear 
it  I  actually  feel  as  if  I  ought  to  have  paid  at  the  door, 
though,  of  course,  it  is  my  own  door. 

July  3d. 

I  fear  my  remarks  about  Dr.  Barritz  must  have  been, 
being  thoughtless,  very  silly,  or  you  would  not  have  written 
of  him  with  such  levity,  not  to  say  disrespect.  Believe  me, 
dearest,  he  has  more  dignity  and  seriousness  (of  the  kind, 


American  Mystery  Stories 

I  mean,  which  is  not  inconsistent  with  a  manner  sometimes 
playful  and  ahvays  charming)  than  any  of  the  men  that 
you  and  I  ever  met.  And  young  Raynor — you  knew  Ray- 
nor  at  Monterey — tells  me  that  the  men  all  like  him,  and 
that  he  is  treated  with  something  like  deference  everywhere. 
There  is  a  mystery,  too — something  about  his  connection 
with  the  Blavatsky  people  in  Northern  India.  Raynor  either 
would  not  or  could  not  tell  me  the  particulars.  I  infer  that 
Dr.  Barritz  is  thought — don't  you  dare  to  laugh  at  me — a 
magician!  Could  anything  be  finer  than  that?  An  ordi- 
nary mystery  is  not,  of  course,  as  good  as  a  scandal,  but 
when  it  relates  to  dark  and  dreadful  practices — to  the  exer- 
cise of  unearthly  powers — could  anything  be  more  piquant? 
It  explains,  too,  the  singular  influence  the  man  has  upon  me. 
It  is  the  undefinable  in  his  art — black  art.  Seriously,  dear, 
I  quite  tremble  when  he  looks  me  full  in  the  eyes  with  those 
unfathomable  orbs  of  his,  which  I  have  already  vainly  at- 
tempted to  describe  to  you.  How  dreadful  if  we  have  the 
power  to  make  one  fall  in  love !  Do  you  know  if  the  Blavat- 
sky crowd  have  that  power — outside  of  Sepoy? 

July  I 
The  strangest  thing!  Last  evening  while  Auntie  was 
attending  one  of  the  hotel  hops  (I  hate  them)  Dr.  Barritz 
called.  It  was  scandalously  late — I  actually  believe  he  had 
talked  with  Aimtie  in  the  ballroom,  and  learned  from  her 
that  I  was  alone.  I  had  been  all  the  evening  contriving  how 
to  worm  out  of  him  the  truth  about  his  connection  with  the 
Thugs  in  Sepoy,  and  all  of  that  black  business,  but  the 
moment  he  fixed  his  eyes  on  me  (for  I  admitted  him,  I'm 
ashamed  to  say)  I  was  helpless,  I  trembled,  I  blushed,  I — 
O  Irene,  Irene,  I  love  the  man  beyond  expression,  and  you 
know  how  it  is  yourself! 

Fancy !  I,  an  ugly  duckling  from  Redhorse — daughter 
(they  say)  of  old  Calamity  Jim — certainly  his  heiress,  with 
no  living  relation  but  an  absurd  old  aunt,  who  spoils  me  a 
thousand  and  fifty  ways — absolutely  destitute  of  everything 
but  a  million  dollars  and  a  hope  in  Paris — I  daring  to  love 


Ambrose  Bicrce 

a  god  like  him !     My  dear,  if  I  had  you  here,  I  could  tear 
your  hair  out  with  mortification. 

I  am  convinced  that  he  is  aware  of  my  feeling,  for  he 
stayed  but  a  few  moments,  said  nothing  but  what  another 
man  might  have  said  half  as  well,  and  pretending  that  he 
had  an  engagement  went  away.  I  learned  to-day  (a  little 
bird  told  me — the  bell  bird)  that  he  went  straight  to  bed. 
How  does  that  strike  you  as  evidence  of  exemplary  habits? 

July  17th. 

That  little  wretch,  Raynor,  called  yesterday,  and  his  bab- 
ble set  me  almost  wild.  He  never  runs  down — that  is  to 
say,  when  he  exterminates  a  score  of  reputations,  more  or 
less,  he  does  not  pause  between  one  reputation  and  the  next. 
(By  the  way,  he  inquired  about  you,  and  his  manifestations 
of  interest  in  you  had,  I  confess,  a  good  deal  of  vraisem- 
blance. ) 

Mr.  Raynor  observes  no  game  laws;  like  Death  (which 
he  would  inflict  if  slander  were  fatal)  he  has  all  seasons 
for  his  own.  But  I  like  him,  for  we  knew  one  another  at 
Redhorse  when  we  were  young  and  true-hearted  and  bare- 
footed. He  was  known  in  those  far  fair  days  as  "  Giggles," 
and  I — O  Irene,  can  you  ever  forgive  me? — I  was  called 
'■  Gunny."  God  knows  why ;  perhaps  in  allusion  to  the 
material  of  my  pinafores ;  perhaps  because  the  name  is  in 
alliteration  with  "  Giggles,"  for  Gig  and  I  were  inseparable 
playmates,  and  the  miners  may  have  thought  it  a  deli- 
cate compliment  to  recognize  some  kind  of  relationship 
between  us. 

Later,  we  took  in  a  third — another  of  Adversity's  brood, 
who,  like  Garrick  between  Tragedy  and  Comedy,  had  a 
chronic  inability  to  adjudicate  the  rival  claims  (to  himself) 
of  Frost  and  Famine.  Between  him  and  the  grave  there 
was  seldom  anything  more  than  a  single  suspender  and  the 
hope  of  a  meal  which  would  at  the  same  time  support  life 
and  make  it  insupportable.  He  literally  picked  up  a  pre- 
carious living  for  himself  and  an  aged  mother  by  "  chlorid- 
ing  the  dumps,"  that  is  to  say,  the  miners  permitted  him  to 


Anwrican  Mystery  Stories 

search  the  heaps  of  waste  rock  for  such  pieces  of  "  pay 
ore  "  as  had  been  overlooked ;  and  these  he  sacked  up  and 
sold  at  the  Syndicate  Mill.  He  became  a  member  of  our 
firm — "  Gunny,  Giggles,  and  Dumps,"  thenceforth — through 
my  favor ;  for  I  could  not  then,  nor  can  I  now,  be  indiffer- 
ent to  his  courage  and  prowess  in  defending  against  Giggles 
the  immemorial  right  of  his  sex  to  insult  a  strange  and  un- 
protected female — myself.  After  old  Jim  struck  it  in  the 
Calamity,  and  I  began  to  wear  shoes  and  go  to  school,  and 
in  emulation  Giggles  took  to  washing  his  face,  and  became 
Jack  Raynor,  of  Wells,  Fargo  &  Co.,  and  old  Mrs.  Barts 
was  herself  chlorided  to  her  fathers.  Dumps  drifted  over  to 
San  Juan  Smith  and  turned  stage  driver,  and  was  killed 
by  road  agents,  and  so  forth. 

Why  do  I  tell  you  all  this,  dear?  Because  it  is  heavy  on 
my  heart.  Because  I  walk  the  Valley  of  Humility.  Be- 
cause I  am  subduing  myself  to  permanent  consciousness  of 
my  unworthiness  to  unloose  the  latchet  of  Dr.  Barritz's  shoe. 
Because — oh,  dear,  oh,  dear — there's  a  cousin  of  Dumps  at 
this  hotel!  I  haven't  spoken  to  him.  I  never  had  any 
acquaintance  with  him,  but — do  you  suppose  he  has  recog- 
nized me?  Do,  please,  give  me  in  your  next  your  candid, 
sure-enough  opinion  about  it,  and  say  you  don't  think  so. 
Do  you  think  He  knows  about  me  already  and  that  is  why 
He  left  me  last  evening  when  He  saw  that  I  blushed  and 
trembled  like  a  fool  under  His  eyes?  You  know  I  can't 
bribe  all  the  newspapers,  and  I  can't  go  back  on  anybody 
who  was  good  to  Gunny  at  Redhorse — not  if  I'm  pitched 
out  of  society  into  the  sea.  So  the  skeleton  sometimes 
rattles  behind  the  door.  I  never  cared  much  before,  as  you 
know,  but  now — nozv  it  is  not  the  same.  Jack  Raynor  I  am 
sure  of — he  will  not  tell  him.  He  seems,  indeed,  to  hold 
him  in  such  respect  as  hardly  to  dare  speak  to  him  at  all, 
and  I'm  a  good  deal  that  way  myself.  Dear,  dear!  I  wish 
I  had  something  besides  a  million  dollars !  If  Jack  were 
three  inches  taller  I'd  marry  him  alive  and  go  back  to  Red- 
horse  and  wear  sackcloth  again  to  the  end  of  my  miserable 


Ambrose  Bierce 

July  25th. 

We  had  a  perfectly  splendid  sunset  last  evening,  and  I 
must  tell  you  all  about  it.  I  ran  away  from  Auntie  and 
everybody,  and  was  walking  alone  on  the  beach.  I  expect 
you  to  believe,  you  infidel!  that  I  had  not  looked  out  of 
my  window  on  the  seaward  side  of  the  hotel  and  seen  him 
walking  alone  on  the  beach.  If  you  are  not  lost  to  every 
feeling  of  womanly  delicacy  you  will  accept  my  statement 
without  question.  I  soon  established  myself  under  my  sun- 
shade and  had  for  some  time  been  gazing  out  dreamily  over 
the  sea,  when  he  approached,  walking  close  to  the  edge 
of  the  w^ater — it  was  ebb  tide.  I  assure  you  the  wet  sand 
actually  brightened  about  his  feet!  As  he  approached  me, 
he  lifted  his  hat,  saying :  "  Miss  Dement,  may  I  sit  with 
you  ? — or  will  you  w^alk  with  me  ?  " 

The  possibility  that  neither  might  be  agreeable  seems  not 
to  have  occurred  to  him.  Did  you  ever  know  such  assur- 
ance? Assurance?  My  dear,  it  was  gall,  downright  gall\ 
Well,  I  didn't  find  it  wormwood,  and  replied,  with  my  un- 
tutored Redhorse  heart  in  my  throat :  "  I — I  shall  be  pleased 
to  do  anything"  Could  words  have  been  more  stupid? 
There  are  depths  of  fatuity  in  me,  friend  o'  my  soul,  which 
are  simply  bottomless ! 

He  extended  his  hand,  smiling,  and  I  delivered  mine  into 
it  without  a  moment's  hesitation,  and  when  his  fingers 
closed  about  it  to  assist  me  to  my  feet,  the  consciousness 
that  it  trembled  made  me  blush  worse  than  the  red  west. 
I  got  up,  however,  and  after  a  while,  observing  that  he  had 
not  let  go  my  hand,  I  pulled  on  it  a  little,  but  unsuccess- 
fully. He  simply  held  on,  saying  nothing,  but  looking 
down  into  my  face  with  some  kind  of  a  smile — I  didn't 
know — how  could  I  ? — whether  it  was  afllectionate,  derisive, 
or  what,  for  I  did  not  look  at  him.  How  beautiful  he  was ! 
— with  the  red  fires  of  the  sunset  burning  in  the  depths  of 
his  eyes.  Do  you  know,  dear,  if  the  Thugs  and  Experts  of 
the  Blavatsky  region  have  any  special  kind  of  eyes?  Ah, 
you  should  have  seen  his  superb  attitude,  the  godlike  in- 
clination of  his  head  as  he  stood  over  me  after  I  had  got 


American  Mystery  Stories 

upon  my  feet !  It  was  a  noble  picture,  but  I  soon  destroyed 
it,  for  I  began  at  once  to  sink  again  to  the  earth.  There 
was  only  one  thing  for  him  to  do,  and  he  did  it ;  he  sup- 
ported me  with  an  arm  about  my  waist. 

'*  Miss  Dement,  are  you  ill?"  he  said. 

It  was  not  an  exclamation ;  there  was  neither  alarm  nor 
solicitude  in  it.  If  he  had  added:  *'  I  suppose  that  is  about 
what  I  am  expected  to  say,"  he  would  hardly  have  expressed 
his  sense  of  the  situation  more  clearly.  His  manner  filled 
me  with  shame  and  indignation,  for  I  was  suffering  acutely. 
I  wrenched  my  hand  out  of  his,  grasped  the  arm  support- 
ing me,  and,  pushing  myself  free,  fell  plump  into  the  sand 
and  sat  helpless.  IVIy  hat  had  fallen  off  in  the  struggle, 
and  my  hair  tumbled  about  my  face  and  shoulders  in  the 
most  mortifying  way. 

"  Go  away  from  me,"  I  cried,  half  choking.  "  Oh,  please 
go  away,  you — you  Thug !  How  dare  you  think  that  when 
my  leg  is  asleep  ?  " 

I  actually  said  those  identical  words !  And  then  I  broke 
down  and  sobbed.    Irene,  I  blubbered ! 

His  manner  altered  in  an  instant — I  could  see  that  much 
through  my  fingers  and  hair.  He  dropped  on  one  knee  be- 
side me,  parted  the  tangle  of  hair,  and  said,  in  the  tenderest 
way :  "  My  poor  girl,  God  knows  I  have  not  intended  to 
pain  you.  How  should  I  ? — I  who  love  you — I  who  have 
loved  you  for — for  years  and  years !  " 

He  had  pulled  my  wet  hands  away  from  my  face  and  was 
covering  them  with  kisses.  My  cheeks  were  like  two  coals, 
my  whole  face  was  flaming  and,  I  think,  steaming.  What 
could  I  do?  I  hid  it  on  his  shoulder — there  was  no  other 
place.  And,  oh,  my  dear  friend,  how  my  leg  tingled  and 
thrilled,  and  how  I  wanted  to  kick ! 

We  sat  so  for  a  long  time.  He  had  released  one  of  my 
hands  to  pass  his  arm  about  me  again,  and  I  possessed 
myself  of  my  handkerchief  and  was  drying  my  eyes  and  my 
nose.  I  would  not  look  up  until  that  was  done ;  he  tried 
in  vain  to  push  me  a  little  away  and  gaze  into  my  eyes. 
Presently,  when  it  was  all  right,  and  it  had  grown  a  bit 

1 02 

Ambrose  Bicrce 

dark,  I  lifted  my  head,  looked  him  straight  in  the  eyes,  and 
smiled  my  best — my  level  best,  dear. 

"  What  do  you  mean,"  I  said,  "  by  '  years  and  years  '?  " 

"  Dearest,"  he  replied,  very  gravely,  very  earnestly,  "  in 
the  absence  of  the  sunken  cheeks,  the  hollow  eyes,  the  lank 
hair,  the  slouching  gait,  the  rags,  dirt,  and  youth,  can  you 
not — will  you  not  understand?    Gunny,  I'm  Dumps!" 

In  a  moment  I  was  upon  my  feet  and  he  upon  his.  I 
seized  him  by  the  lapels  of  his  coat  and  peered  into  his 
handsome  face  in  the  deepening  darkness.  I  was  breathless 
with  excitement. 

"  And  you  are  not  dead  ?  "  I  asked,  hardly  knowing  what 
I  said. 

"  Only  dead  in  love,  dear.  I  recovered  from  the  road 
agent's  bullet,  but  this,  I  fear,  is  fatal." 

"But  about  Jack — Mr.  Raynor?    Don't  you  know- " 

"  I  am  ashamed  to  say,  darling,  that  it  was  through  that 
unworthy  person's  invitation  that  I  came  here  from  Vienna." 

Irene,  they  have  played  it  upon  your  afifectionate  friend, 

Mary  Jane  Dement. 

P.S. — The  worst  of  it  is  that  there  is  no  mystery.  That 
was  an  invention  of  Jack  to  arouse  my  curiosity  and  inter- 
est. James  is  not  a  Thug.  He  solemnly  assures  me  that  in 
all  his  wanderings  he  has  never  set  foot  in  Sepoy. 

The  Man  and  the  Snake 

It  is  of  veritabyll  report,  and  attested  of  so  many  that  there  be 
nowe  of  wyse  and  learned  none  to  gaynsaye  it,  that  ye  serpente  hys 
eye  hath  a  magnetick  propertie  that  whosoe  falleth  into  its  svasion 
is  drawn  forwards  in  despyte  of  his  wille,  and  perisheth  miserabyll 
by  ye  creature  hys  byte. 

Stretched  at  ease  upon  a  sofa,  in  gown  and  slippers, 
Harker  Brayton  smiled  as  he  read  the  foregoing  sentence 


American  Mystery  Stories 

in  old  Morryster's  "  Marvells  of  Science."  "  The  only 
marvel  in  the  matter,"  he  said  to  himself,  "  is  that  the 
wise  and  learned  in  Morryster's  day  should  have  believed 
such  nonsense  as  is  rejected  by  most  of  even  the  ignorant 
in  ours." 

A  train  of  reflections  followed — for  Brayton  was  a  man 
of  thought — and  he  unconsciously  lowered  his  book  with- 
out altering  the  direction  of  his  eyes.  As  soon  as  the  vol- 
ume had  gone  below  the  line  of  sight,  something  in  an 
obscure  corner  of  the  room  recalled  his  attention  to  his 
surroundings.  What  he  saw,  in  the  shadow  under  his  bed, 
were  two  small  points  of  light,  apparently  about  an  inch 
apart.  They  might  have  been  reflections  of  the  gas  jet 
above  him,  in  metal  nail  heads ;  he  gave  them  but  little 
thought  and  resumed  his  reading,  A  moment  later  some- 
thing— some  impulse  which  it  did  not  occur  to  him  to 
analyze — impelled  him  to  lower  the  book  again  and  seek  for 
what  he  saw  before.  The  points  of  light  were  still  there. 
They  seemed  to  have  become  brighter  than  before,  shining 
with  a  greenish  luster  which  he  had  not  at  first  observed. 
He  thought,  too,  that  they  might  have  moved  a  trifle — were 
somewhat  nearer.  They  were  still  too  much  in  the  shadow, 
however,  to  reveal  their  nature  and  origin  to  an  indolent 
attention,  and  he  resumed  his  reading.  Suddenly  something 
in  the  text  suggested  a  thought  which  made  him  start  and 
drop  the  book  for  the  third  time  to  the  side  of  the  sofa, 
whence,  escaping  from  his  hand,  it  fell  sprawling  to  the 
floor,  back  upward.  Brayton,  half-risen,  was  staring  in- 
tently into  the  obscurity  beneath  the  bed,  where  the  points 
of  light  shone  with,  it  seemed  to  him,  an  added  fire.  His 
attention  was  now  fully  aroused,  his  gaze  eager  and  im- 
perative. It  disclosed,  almost  directly  beneath  the  foot  rail 
of  the  bed,  the  coils  of  a  large  serpent — the  points  of  light 
were  its  eyes !  Its  horrible  head,  thrust  flatly  forth  from  the 
innermost  coil  and  resting  upon  the  outermost,  was  directed 
straight  toward  him,  the  definition  of  the  wide,  brutal  jaw 
and  the  idiotlike  forehead  serving  to  show  the  direction  of 
its  malevolent  gaze.    The  eyes  were  no  longer  merely  lumi- 


Ambrose  Bierce 

nous  points ;  they  looked  into  his  own  with  a  meaning,  a 
malign  significance. 


A  SNAKE  in  a  bedroom  of  a  modern  city  dwelling  of  the 
better  sort  is,  happily,  not  so  common  a  phenomenon  as  to 
make  explanation  altogether  needless.  Marker  Brayton,  a 
bachelor  of  thirty-five,  a  scholar,  idler,  and  something  of  an 
athlete,  rich,  popular,  and  of  sound  health,  had  returned  to 
San  Francisco  from  all  manner  of  remote  and  unfamiliar 
countries.  His  tastes,  always  a  trifle  luxurious,  had  taken 
on  an  added  exuberance  from  long  privation ;  and  the  re- 
sources of  even  the  Castle  Hotel  being  inadequate  for  their 
perfect  gratification,  he  had  gladly  accepted  the  hospitality 
of  his  friend.  Dr.  Druring,  the  distinguished  scientist.  Dr. 
Druring's  house,  a  large,  old-fashioned  one  in  what  was 
now  an  obscure  quarter  of  the  city,  had  an  outer  and  visible 
aspect  of  reserve.  It  plainly  would  not  associate  with  the 
contiguous  elements  of  its  altered  environment,  and  ap- 
peared to  have  developed  some  of  the  eccentricities  which 
come  of  isolation.  One  of  these  was  a  '*  wing,"  conspicu- 
ously irrelevant  in  point  of  architecture,  and  no  less  rebel- 
lious in  the  matter  of  purpose;  for  it  was  a  combination 
of  laboratory,  menagerie,  and  museum.  It  was  here  that 
the  doctor  indulged  the  scientific  side  of  his  nature  in  the 
study  of  such  forms  of  animal  life  as  engaged  his  interest 
and  comforted  his  taste — which,  it  must  be  confessed,  ran 
rather  to  the  lower  forms.  For  one  of  the  higher  types 
nimbly  and  sweetly  to  recommend  itself  unto  his  gentle 
senses,  it  had  at  least  to  retain  certain  rudimentary  charac- 
teristics allying  it  to  such  "  dragons  of  the  prime  "  as  toads 
and  snakes.  His  scientific  sympathies  were  distinctly  rep- 
tilian; he  loved  nature's  vulgarians  and  described  himself 
as  the  Zola  of  zoology.  His  wife  and  daughters,  not  having 
the  advantage  to  share  his  enlightened  curiosity  regarding 
the  works  and  ways  of  our  ill-starred  fellow-creatures,  were, 
v/ith  needless  austerity,  excluded  from  what  he  called  the 


American  Mystery  Stories 

Snakery,  and  doomed  to  companionship  with  their  own 
kind ;  though,  to  soften  the  rigors  of  their  lot,  he  had  per- 
mitted them,  out  of  his  great  wealth,  to  outdo  the  reptiles 
in  the  gorgeousness  of  their  surroundings  and  to  shine  with 
a  superior  splendor. 

Architecturally,  and  in  point  of  "  furnishing,"  the  Snakery 
had  a  severe  simplicity  befitting  the  humble  circumstances 
of  its  occupants,  many  of  whom,  indeed,  could  not  safely 
have  been  intrusted  with  the  liberty  which  is  necessary  to 
the  full  enjoyment  of  luxury,  for  they  had  the  troublesome 
peculiarity  of  being  alive.  In  their  own  apartments,  how- 
ever, they  were  under  as  little  personal  restraint  as  was 
compatible  with  their  protection  from  the  baneful  habit  of 
swallowing  one  another ;  and,  as  Brayton  had  thoughtfully 
been  apprised,  it  was  more  than  a  tradition  that  some  of 
them  had  at  divers  times  been  found  in  parts  of  the  premises 
where  it  would  have  embarrassed  them  to  explain  their 
presence.  Despite  the  Snakery  and  its  uncanny  associa- 
tions— ^to  which,  indeed,  he  gave  little  attention — Brayton 
found  life  at  the  Druring  mansion  very  much  to  his  mind. 


Beyond  a  smart  shock  of  surprise  and  a  shudder  of  mere 
loathing,  Mr.  Brayton  was  not  greatly  affected.  His  first 
thought  was  to  ring  the  call  bell  and  bring  a  servant ;  but, 
although  the  bell  cord  dangled  within  easy  reach,  he  made 
no  movement  toward  it ;  it  had  occurred  to  his  mind  that 
the  act  might  subject  him  to  the  suspicion  of  fear,  which 
he  certainly  did  not  feel.  He  was  more  keenly  conscious 
of  the  incongruous  nature  of  the  situation  than  affected  by 
its  perils ;  it  was  revolting,  but  absurd. 

The  reptile  was  of  a  species  with  which  Brayton  was  un- 
familiar. Its  length  he  could  only  conjecture ;  the  body  at 
the  largest  visible  part  seemed  about  as  thick  as  his  fore- 
arm. In  what  way  was  it  dangerous,  if  in  any  way?  Was 
it  venomous?     Was  it  a  constrictor?     His  knowledge  of 

1 06 

Ambrose  Bicrce 

nature's  danger  signals  did  not  enable  him  to  say;  he  had 
never  deciphered  the  code. 

If  not  dangerous,  the  creature  was  at  least  offensive.  It 
was  de  trop — "  matter  out  of  place  " — an  impertinence. 
The  gem  was  unworthy  of  the  setting.  Even  the  barbarous 
taste  of  our  time  and  country,  which  had  loaded  the  walls 
of  the  room  with  pictures,  the  floor  with  furniture,  and 
the  furniture  with  bric-a-brac,  had  not  quite  fitted  the 
place  for  this  bit  of  the  savage  life  of  the  jungle.  Be- 
sides —  insupportable  thought !  —  the  exhalations  of  its 
breath  mingled  with  the  atmosphere  which  he  himself  was 

These  thoughts  shaped  themselves  with  greater  or  less 
definition  in  Brayton's  mind,  and  begot  action.  The  process 
is  what  we  call  consideration  and  decision.  It  is  thus  that 
we  are  wise  and  unwise.  It  is  thus  that  the  withered  leaf 
in  an  autumn  breeze  shows  greater  or  less  intelligence  than 
its  fellows,  falling  upon  the  land  or  upon  the  lake.  The 
secret  of  human  action  is  an  open  one — something  contracts 
our  muscles.  Does  it  matter  if  we  give  to  the  preparatory 
molecular  changes  the  name  of  will  ? 

Brayton  rose  to  his  feet  and  prepared  to  back  softly  away 
from  the  snake,  without  disturbing  it,  if  possible,  and 
through  the  door.  People  retire  so  from  the  presence  of 
the  great,  for  greatness  is  power,  and  power  is  a  menace. 
He  knew  that  he  could  walk  backward  without  obstruction, 
and  find  the  door  without  error.  Should  the  monster  fol- 
low, the  taste  which  had  plastered  the  walls  with  paintings 
had  consistently  supplied  a  rack  of  murderous  Oriental 
weapons  from  which  he  could  snatch  one  to  suit  the  occa- 
sion. In  the  meantime  the  snake's  eyes  burned  with  a  more 
pitiless  malevolence  than  ever. 

Brayton  lifted  his  right  foot  free  of  the  floor  to  step 
backward.  That  moment  he  felt  a  strong  aversion  to 
doing  so. 

"  I  am  accounted  brave,"  he  murmured ;  "  is  bravery, 
then,  no  more  than  pride  ?  Because  there  are  none  to  wit- 
ness the  shame  shall  I  retreat  ?  " 


American  Mystery  Stories 

He  was  steadying  himself  with  his  right  hand  upon  the 
back  of  a  chair,  his  foot  suspended, 

"  Nonsense !  "  he  said  aloud ;  "  I  am  not  so  great  a  cow- 
ard as  to  fear  to  seem  to  myself  afraid." 

He  lifted  the  foot  a  little  higher  by  slightly  bending  the 
knee,  and  thrust  it  sharply  to  the  floor — an  inch  in  front  of 
the  other !  He  could  not  think  how  that  occurred.  A  trial 
with  the  left  foot  had  the  same  result ;  it  was  again  in  ad- 
vance of  the  right.  The  hand  upon  the  chair  back  was 
grasping  it ;  the  arm  was  straight,  reaching  somewhat  back- 
ward. One  might  have  seen  that  he  was  reluctant  to  lose 
his  hold.  The  snake's  malignant  head  was  still  thrust  forth 
from  the  inner  coil  as  before,  the  neck  level.  It  had  not 
moved,  but  its  eyes  were  now  electric  sparks,  radiating  an 
infinity  of  luminous  needles. 

The  man  had  an  ashy  pallor.  Again  he  took  a  step  for- 
ward, and  another,  partly  dragging  the  chair,  which,  when 
finally  released,  fell  upon  the  floor  with  a  crash.  The  man 
groaned ;  the  snake  made  neither  sound  nor  motion,  but  its 
eyes  were  two  dazzling  suns.  The  reptile  itself  was  wholly 
concealed  by  them.  They  gave  ofif  enlarging  rings  of  rich 
and  vivid  colors,  which  at  their  greatest  expansion  succes- 
sively vanished  like  soap  bubbles ;  they  seemed  to  approach 
his  very  face,  and  anon  were  an  immeasurable  distance 
away.  He  heard,  somewhere,  the  continual  throbbing  of  a 
great  drum,  with  desultory  bursts  of  far  music,  inconceiv- 
ably sweet,  like  the  tones  of  an  seolian  harp.  He  knew  it 
for  the  sunrise  melody  of  Memnon's  statue,  and  thought  he 
stood  in  the  Nileside  reeds,  hearing,  with  exalted  sense, 
that  immortal  anthem  through  the  silence  of  the  cen- 

The  music  ceased ;  rather,  it  became  by  insensible  degrees 
the  distant  roll  of  a  retreating  thunderstorm.  A  landscape, 
glittering  with  sun  and  rain,  stretched  before  him,  arched 
with  a  vivid  rainbow,  framing  in  its  giant  curve  a  hundred 
visible  cities.  In  the  middle  distance  a  vast  serpent,  wear- 
ing a  crown,  reared  its  head  out  of  its  voluminous  convo- 
lutions  and  looked  at  him  with  his   dead  mother's   eyes. 


Ambrose  Bierce 

Suddenly  this  enchanting  landscape  seemed  to  rise  swiftly 
upward,  like  the  drop  scene  at  a  theater,  and  vanished  in 
a  blank.  Something  struck  him  a  hard  blow  upon  the  face 
and  breast.  He  had  fallen  to  the  floor ;  the  blood  ran  from 
his  broken  nose  and  his  bruised  lips.  For  a  moment  he  was 
dazed  and  stunned,  and  lay  with  closed  eyes,  his  face  against 
the  door.  In  a  few  moments  he  had  recovered,  and  then 
realized  that  his  fall,  by  withdrawing  his  eyes,  had  broken 
the  spell  which  held  him.  He  felt  that  now,  by  keeping  his 
gaze  averted,  he  would  be  able  to  retreat.  But  the  tlK)ught 
of  the  serpent  within  a  few  feet  of  his  head,  yet  unseen — 
perhaps  in  the  very  act  of  springing  upon  him  and  throw- 
ing its  coils  about  his  throat — was  too  horrible.  He  lifted 
his  head,  stared  again  into  those  baleful  eyes,  and  was  again 
in  bondage. 

The  snake  had  not  moved,  and  appeared  somewhat  to 
have  lost  its  power  upon  the  imagination ;  the  gorgeous 
illusions  of  a  few  moments  before  were  not  repeated.  Be- 
neath that  flat  and  brainless  brow  its  black,  beady  eyes 
simply  glittered,  as  at  first,  with  an  expression  unspeakably 
malignant.  It  was  as  if  the  creature,  knowing  its  tri- 
umph assured,  had  determined  to  practice  no  more  allur- 
ing wiles. 

Now  ensued  a  fearful  scene.  The  man,  prone  upon  the 
floor,  within  a  yard  of  his  enemy,  raised  the  upper  part  of 
his  body  upon  his  elbows,  his  head  thrown  back,  his  legs 
extended  to  their  full  length.  His  face  was  white  between 
its  gouts  of  blood ;  his  eyes  were  strained  open  to  their 
uttermost  expansion.  There  was  froth  upon  his  lips ;  it 
dropped  off  in  flakes.  Strong  convulsions  ran  through  his 
body,  making  almost  serpentine  undulations.  He  bent  him- 
self at  the  waist,  shifting  his  legs  from  side  to  side.  And 
every  movement  left  him  a  little  nearer  to  the  snake.  He 
thrust  his  hands  forward  to  brace  himself  back,  yet  con- 
stantly advanced  upon  his  elbows. 


American  Mystery  Stories 


Dr.  Druring  and  his  wife  sat  in  the  library.  The  sci- 
entist was  in  rare  good  humor. 

"  I  have  just  obtained,  by  exchange  with  another  col- 
lector," he  saidj  "  a  splendid  specimen  of  the  Ophiophagus." 

"  And  what  may  that  be  ? "  the  lady  inquired  with  a 
somewhat  languid  interest. 

"Why,  bless  my  soul,  what  profound  ignorance!  jMy 
dear,  a  man  who  ascertains  after  marriage  that  his  wife 
does  not  know  Greek,  is  entitled  to  a  divorce.  The  Ophio- 
phagus  is  a  snake  which  eats  other  snakes." 

"  I  hope  it  will  eat  all  yours,"  she  said,  absently  shifting 
the  lamp.  "But  how  does  it  get  the  other  snakes?  By 
charming  them,  I  suppose." 

"  That  is  just  like  you,  dear,"  said  the  doctor,  with  an 
affectation  of  petulance.  "  You  know  how  irritating  to  me 
is  any  allusion  to  that  vulgar  superstition  about  the  snake's 
power  of  fascination." 

The  conversation  was  interrupted  by  a  mighty  cry  which 
rang  through  the  silent  house  like  the  voice  of  a  demon 
shouting  in  a  tomb.  Again  and  yet  again  it  sounded,  with 
terrible  distinctness.  They  sprang  to  their  feet,  the  man 
confused,  the  lady  pale  and  speechless  with  fright.  Almost 
before  the  echoes  of  the  last  cry  had  died  away  the  doctor 
was  out  of  the  room,  springing  up  the  staircase  two  steps 
at  a  time.  In  the  corridor,  in  front  of  Brayton's  chamber, 
he  met  some  servants  who  had  come  from  the  upper  floor. 
Together  they  rushed  at  the  door  without  knocking.  It 
was  unfastened,  and  gave  way.  Brayton  lay  upon  his  stom- 
ach on  the  floor,  dead.  His  head  and  arms  were  partly 
concealed  under  the  foot  rail  of  the  bed.  They  pulled  the 
body  away,  turning  it  upon  the  back.  The  face  was  daubed 
with  blood  and  froth,  the  eyes  were  wide  open,  staring — a 
dreadful  sight ! 

"  Died  in  a  fit,"  said  the  scientist,  bending  his  knee  and 
placing  his  hand  upon  the  heart.     While  in  that  position  he 


Ambrose  Bierce 

happened    to   glance   under   the   bed.     "  Good   God ! "   he 
added ;  "  how  did  this  thing  get  in  here  ?  " 

He  reached  under  the  bed,  pulled  out  the  snake,  and  flung 
it,  still  coiled,  to  the  center  of  the  room,  whence,  with  a 
harsh,  shuffling  sound,  it  slid  across  the  polished  floor  till 
stopped  by  the  wall,  where  it  lay  without  motion.  It  was 
a  stuffed  snake;  its  eyes  were  two  shoe  buttons. 
From    "  Tales    of   Soldiers    and    Civilians,"    by   Ambrose 

Bierce.    Copyright,  i8pi,  by  E.  L.  G.  Steele. 


Edgar  Allan  Poe 
The  Oblong  Box 

COME  years  ago,  I  engaged  passage  from  Charleston, 
S.  C,  to  the  city  of  New  York,  in  the  fine  packet  ship 
"  Independence,"  Captain  Hardy.  We  were  to  sail  on  the 
fifteenth  of  the  month  (June),  weather  permitting;  and  on 
the  fourteenth,  I  went  on  board  to  arrange  some  matters 
in  my  stateroom. 

I  found  that  we  were  to  have  a  great  many  passengers, 
including  a  more  than  usual  number  of  ladies.  On  the  list 
were  several  of  my  acquaintances;  and  among  other  names, 
I  was  rejoiced  to  see  that  of  Mr.  Cornelius  Wyatt,  a  young 
artist,  for  whom  I  entertained  feelings  of  warm  friendship. 

He  had  been  with  me  a  fellow  student  at  C University, 

where  we  were  very  much  together.  He  had  the  ordinary 
temperament  of  genius,  and  was  a  compound  of  misan- 
thropy, sensibility,  and  enthusiasm.  To  these  qualities  he 
united  the  warmest  and  truest  heart  which  ever  beat  in  a 
human  bosom. 

I  observed  that  his  name  was  carded  upon  three  state- 
rooms: and,  upon  again  referring  to  the  list  of  passengers, 
I  found  that  he  had  engaged  passage  for  himself,  wife,  and 
two  sisters — his  own.  The  staterooms  were  sufficiently 
roomy,  and  each  had  two  berths,  one  above  the  other. 
These  berths,  to  be  sure,  were  so  exceedingly  narrow  as 
to  be  insufficient  for  more  than  one  person;  still,  I  could 
not  comprehend  why  there  were  three  staterooms  for  these 
four  persons.  I  was,  just  at  that  epoch,  in  one  of  those 
moody  frames  of  mind  which  make  a  man  abnormally  in- 
quisitive about  trifles:  and  I  confess,  with  shame,  that  I 
busied  myself  in  a  variety  of  ill-bred  and  preposterous  con- 
jectures about  this  matter  of  the  supernumerary  stateroom. 


Edgar  Allan  Poe 

It  was  no  business  of  mine,  to  be  «:ure;  but  with  none  the 
less  pertinacity  did  I  occupy  myself  in  attempts  to  resolve 
the  enigma.  At  last  I  reached  a  conclusion  which  wrought 
in  me  great  wonder  why  I  had  not  arrived  at  it  before. 
"It  is  a  servant,  of  course,"  I  said;  "what  a  fool  I  am, 
not  sooner  to  have  thought  of  so  obvious  a  solution!  "  And 
then  I  again  repaired  to  the  list — but  here  I  saw  distinctly 
that  no  servant  was  to  come  with  the  party:  although,  in 
fact,  it  had  been  the  original  design  to  bring  one — for  the 
words  "  and  servant  "  had  been  first  written  and  then  over- 
scored.  "  Oh,  extra  baggage,  to  be  sure,"  I  now  safd  to 
myself — "  something  he  wishes  not  to  be  put  in  the  hold 
— something  to  be  kept  under  his  own  eye — ah,  I  have  it 
— a  painting  or  so — and  this  is  what  he  has  been  bargain- 
ing about  with  Nicolino,  the  Italian  Jew."  This  idea  sat- 
isfied me,  and  I  dismissed  my  curiosity  for  the  nonce. 

Wyatt's  two  sisters  I  knew  very  well,  and  most  amiable 
and  clever  girls  they  were.  His  wife  he  had  newly  married, 
and  I  had  never  yet  seen  her.  He  had  often  talked  about 
her  in  my  presence,  however,  and  in  his  usual  style  of 
enthusiasm.  He  described  her  as  of  surpassing  beauty,  wit, 
and  accomplishment.  I  was,  therefore,  quite  anxious  to 
make  her  acquaintance. 

On  the  day  in  which  I  visited  the  ship  (the  fourteenth), 
Wyatt  and  party  were  also  to  visit  it — so  the  captain  in- 
formed me, — and  I  waited  on  board  an  hour  longer  than 
I  had  designed,  in  hope  of  being  presented  to  the  bride;  but 
then  an  apology  came.  "  Mrs.  W.  was  a  little  indisposed, 
and  would  decline  coming  on  board  until  to-morrow,  at  the 
hour  of  sailing." 

The  morrow  having  arrived,  I  was  going  from  my  hotel 
to  the  wharf,  when  Captain  Hardy  met  me  and  said  that, 
"  owing  to  circumstances  "  (a  stupid  but  convenient  phrase), 
"  he  rather  thought  the  '  Independence  '  would  not  sail  for 
a  day  or  two,  and  that  when  all  was  ready,  he  would  send 
up  and  let  me  know."  This  I  thought  strange,  for  there 
was  a  stiff  southerly  breeze;  but  as  "the  circumstances" 
were  not  forthcoming,  akhough  I  pumped  for  them  with 


American  Mystery  Stories 

much  perseverance,  I  had  nothing  to  do  but  to  return  home 
and  digest  my  impatience  at  leisure. 

I  did  not  receive  the  expected  message  from  the  captain 
for  nearly  a  week.  It  came  at  length,  however,  and  I  im- 
mediately went  on  board.  The  ship  was  crowded  with  pas- 
sengers, and  everything  was  in  a  bustle  attendant  upon 
making  sail.  Wyatt's  party  arrived  in  about  ten  minutes 
after  myself.  There  were  the  two  sisters,  the  bride,  and  the 
artist — the  latter  in  one  of  his  customary  fits  of  moody 
misanthropy.  I  was  too  well  used  to  these,  however,  to  pay 
them  any  special  attention.  He  did  not  even  introduce  me 
to  his  wife; — this  courtesy  devolving,  perforce,  upon  his 
sister  Marian — a  very  sweet  and  intelligent  girl,  who,  in  a 
few  hurried  words,  made  us  acquainted. 

Mrs.  Wyatt  had  been  closely  veiled;  and  when  she  raised 
her  veil,  in  acknowledging  my  bow,  I  confess  that  I  was 
very  profoundly  astonished.  I  should  have  been  much  more 
so,  however,  had  not  long  experience  advised  me  not  to 
trust,  with  too  implicit  a  reliance,  the  enthusiastic  descrip- 
tions of  my  friend,  the  artist,  when  indulging  in  comments 
upon  the  loveliness  of  woman.  When  beauty  was  the 
theme,  I  well  knew  with  what  facility  he  soared  into  the 
regions  of  the  purely  ideal. 

The  truth  is,  I  could  not  help  regarding  Mrs.  Wyatt  as 
a  decidedly  plain-looking  woman.  If  not  positively  ugly, 
she  was  not,  I  think,  very  far  from  it.  She  was  dressed, 
however,  in  exquisite  taste — and  then  I  had  no  doubt  that 
she  had  captivated  my  friend's  heart  by  the  more  endur- 
ing graces  of  the  intellect  and  soul.  She  said  very  few 
words,  and  passed  at  once  into  her  stateroom  with  Mr.  W. 

My  old  inquisitiveness  now  returned.  There  was  no  ser- 
vant— that  was  a  settled  point.  I  looked,  therefore,  for  the 
extra  baggage.  After  some  delay,  a  cart  arrived  at  the 
wharf,  with  an  oblong  pine  box,  which  was  everything  that 
seemed  to  be  expected.  Immediately  upon  its  arrival  we 
made  sail,  and  in  a  short  time  were  safely  over  the  bar  and 
standing  out  to  sea. 

,    The  box  in  question  was,  as  I  say,  oblong.    It  was  about 


Edgar  Allan  Pee 

six  feet  in  length  by  two  and  a  half  in  breadth ; — I  observed 
it  attentively,  and  like  to  be  precise.  Now  this  shape  was 
peculiar;  and  no  sooner  had  I  seen  it,  than  I  took  credit  to 
myself  for  the  accuracy  of  my  guessing,  I  had  reached  the 
conclusion,  it  will  be  remembered,  that  the  extra  baggage 
of  my  friend,  the  artist,  would  prove  to  be  pictures,  or  at 
least  a  picture;  for  I  knew  he  had  been  for  several  weeks 
in  conference  with  Nicolino: — and  now  here  was  a  box, 
which,  from  its  shape,  could  possibly  contain  nothing  in  the 
world  but  a  copy  of  Leonardo's  "  Last  Supper " ;  and  a 
copy  of  this  very  "  Last  Supper,"  done  by  Rubini  the 
younger,  at  Florence,  I  had  known,  for  some  time,  to  be 
in  the  possession  of  Nicolino.  This  point,  therefore,  I  con- 
sidered as  sufficiently  settled.  I  chuckled  excessively  when 
I  thought  of  my  acumen.  It  was  the  first  time  I  had  ever 
known  Wyatt  to  keep  from  me  any  of  his  artistical  secrets; 
but  here  he  evidently  intended  to  steal  a  march  upon  me, 
and  smuggle  a  fine  picture  to  New  York,  under  my  very 
nose;  expecting  me  to  know  nothing  of  the  matter.  I  re- 
solved to  quiz  him  well,  now  and  hereafter. 

One  thing,  however,  annoyed  me  not  a  little.  The  box 
did  not  go  into  the  extra  stateroom.  It  was  deposited  in 
Wyatt's  own;  and  there,  too,  it  remained,  occupying  very 
nearly  the  whole  of  the  floor — no  doubt  to  the  exceeding 
discomfort  of  the  artist  and  his  wife; — this  the  more  espe- 
cially as  the  tar  or  paint  with  which  it  was  lettered  in 
sprawling  capitals,  emitted  a  strong,  disagreeable,  and  to 
my  fancy,  a  peculiarly  disgusting  odor.  On  the  lid  were 
painted  the  words — "Mrs.  Adelaide  Curtis.  Albany,  New 
York.  Charge  of  Cornelius  Wyatt,  Esq.  This  side  up.  To 
be  handled  with  care." 

Now,  I  was  aware  that  Mrs.  Adelaide  Curtis,  of  Albany, 
was  the  artist's  wife's  mother; — but  then  I  looked  upon  the 
whole  address  as  a  mystification,  intended  especially  for 
myself.  I  made  up  my  mind,  of  course,  that  the  box  and 
contents  would  never  get  farther  north  than  the  studio 
of  my  misanthropic  friend,  in  Chambers  Street,  New  York. 

For  the  first  three  or  four  days  we  had  fine  weather, 


American  Mystery  Stories 

although  the  wind  was  dead  ahead;  having-  chopped  round 
to  the  northward,  immediately  upon  our  losing  sight  of 
the  coast.  The  passengers  were,  consequently,  in  high 
spirits  and  disposed  to  be  social.  I  must  except,  however, 
Wyatt  and  his  sisters,  who  behaved  stiffly,  and,  I  could  not 
help  thinking,  uncourteously  to  the  rest  of  the  party. 
Wyatfs  conduct  I  did  not  so  much  regard.  He  was 
gloomy,  even  beyond  his  usual  habit — in  fact  he  was  mo- 
rose— but  in  him  I  was  prepared  for  eccentricity.  For  the 
sisters,  however,  I  could  make  no  excuse.  They  secluded 
themselves  in  their  staterooms  during  the  greater  part  of 
the  passage,  and  absolutely  refused,  although  I  repeatedly 
urged  them,  to  hold  communication  with  any  person  on 

Mrs.  Wyatt  herself  was  far  more  agreeable.  That  is  to 
say,  she  was  chatty;  and  to  be  chatty  is  no  slight  recom- 
mendation at  sea.  She  became  excessively  intimate  with 
most  of  the  ladies;  and,  to  my  profound  astonishment, 
evinced  no  equivocal  disposition  to  coquet  with  the  men. 
She  amused  us  all  very  much.  I  say  "  amused " — and 
scarcely  know  how  to  explain  myself.  The  truth  is,  I  soon 
found  that  Mrs.  W.  was  far  oftener  laughed  at  than  zvith. 
The  gentlemen  said  little  about  her;  but  the  ladies,  in  a 
little  while,  pronounced  her  "  a  good-hearted  thing,  rather 
indifferent-looking,  totally  uneducated,  and  decidedly  vul- 
gar." The  great  wonder  was,  how  Wyatt  had  been  en- 
trapped into  such  a  match.  Wealth  was  the  general  solu- 
tion— but  this  I  knew  to  be  no  solution  at  all ;  for  Wyatt 
had  told  me  that  she  neither  brought  him  a  dollar  nor  had 
any  expectations  from  any  source  whatever.  "  He  had 
married,"  he  said,  "for  love,  and  for  love  only;  and  his 
bride  was  far  more  than  worthy  of  his  love."  When  I 
thought  of  these  expressions,  on  the  part  of  my  friend, 
I  confess  that  I  felt  indescribably  puzzled.  Could  it  be 
possible  that  he  was  taking  leave  of  his  senses?  What  else 
could  I  think?  He,  so  refined,  so  intellectual,  so  fastidious, 
with  so  exquisite  a  perception  of  the  faulty,  and  so  keen 
an  appreciation  of  the  beautiful!     To  be  sure,  the  lady 


Edmr  Allan  Poe 


seemed  especially  fond  of  him — particularly  so  in  his  absence 
— when  she  made  herself  ridiculous  by  frequent  quotations 
of  what  had  been  said  by  her  "  beloved  husband,  Mr.  Wy- 
att."  The  word  "  husband  "  seemed  forever — to  use  one 
of  her  own  delicate  expressions — forever  "  on  the  tip  of  her 
tongue."  In  the  meantime,  it  was  observed  by  all  on  board, 
that  he  avoided  her  in  the  most  pointed  manner,  and,  for 
the  most  part,  shut  himself  up  alone  in  his  stateroom,  where, 
in  fact,  he  might  have  been  said  to  live  altogether,  leaving 
his  wife  at  full  liberty  to  amuse  herself  as  she  thought  best, 
in  the  public  society  of  the  main  cabin. 

My  conclusion,  from  what  I  saw  and  heard,  was,  that  the 
artist,  by  some  unaccountable  freak  of  fate,  or  perhaps  in 
some  fit  of  enthusiastic  and  fanciful  passion,  had  been  in- 
duced to  unite  himself  with  a  person  altogether  beneath 
him,  and  that  the  natural  result,  entire  and  speedy  disgust, 
had  ensued.  I  pitied  him  from  the  bottom  of  my  heart — but 
could  not,  for  that  reason,  quite  forgive  his  incommuni- 
cativeness  in  the  matter  of  the  "  Last  Supper."  For  this  I 
resolved  to  have  my  revenge. 

One  day  he  came  upon  deck,  and,  taking  his  arm  as  had 
been  my  wont,  I  sauntered  with  him  backward  and  for- 
ward. His  gloom,  however  (which  I  considered  quite  natu- 
ral under  any  circumstances),  seemed  entirely  unabated. 
He  said  little,  and  that  moodily,  and  with  evident  efifort.  I 
ventured  a  jest  or  two,  and  he  made  a  sickening  attempt  at 
a  smile.  Poor  fellow ! — as  I  thought  of  his  wife,  I  wondered 
that  he  could  have  heart  to  put  on  even  the  semblance  of 
mirth.  At  last  I  ventured  a  home  thrust.  I  determined  to 
commence  a  series  of  covert  insinuations,  or  innuendoes, 
about  the  oblong  box — just  to  let  him  perceive,  gradually, 
that  I  was  not  altogether  the  butt,  or  victim,  of  his  little 
bit  of  pleasant  mystification.  My  first  observation  was  by 
way  of  opening  a  masked  battery.  I  said  something  about 
the  "  peculiar  shape  of  that  box  ";  and,  as  I  spoke  the  words, 
I  smiled  knowingly,  winked,  and  touched  him  gently  with 
my  forefinger  in  the  ribs. 

The  manner  in  which  Wyatt  received  this  harmless  pleas- 


American  Mystery  Stories 

antry  convinced  me,  at  once,  that  he  was  mad.  At  first  he 
stared  at  me  as  if  he  found  it  impossible  to  comprehend 
the  witticism  of  my  remark;  but  as  its  point  seemed  slowly 
to  make  its  way  into  his  brain,  his  eyes,  in  the  same  pro- 
portion, seemed  protruding  from  their  sockets.  Then  he 
grew  very  red — then  hideously  pale — then,  as  if  highly 
anmsed  with  what  I  had  insinuated,  he  began  a  loud  and 
boisterous  laugh,  which,  to  my  astonishment,  he  kept  up, 
with  gradually  increasing  vigor,  for  ten  minutes  or  more. 
In  conclusion,  he  fell  flat  and  heavily  upon  the  deck.  When 
I  ran  to  uplift  him,  to  all  appearance  he  was  dead. 

I  called  assistance,  and,  with  much  difficulty,  we  brought 
him  to  himself.  Upon  reviving  he  spoke  incoherently  for 
some  time.  At  length  we  bled  him  and  put  him  to  bed. 
The  next  morning  he  was  quite  recovered,  so  far  as  re- 
garded his  mere  bodily  health.  Of  his  mind  I  say  nothing, 
of  course.  I  avoided  him  during  the  rest  of  the  passage, 
by  advice  of  the  captain,  who  seemed  to  coincide  with  me 
altogether  in  my  views  of  his  insanity,  but  cautioned  me  to 
say  nothing  on  this  head  to  any  person  on  board. 

Several  circumstances  occurred  immediately  after  this  fit 
of  Wyatt's  which  contributed  to  heighten  the  curiosity  with 
which  I  was  already  possessed.  Among  other  things,  this: 
I  had  been  nervous — drank  too  much  strong  green  tea,  and 
slept  ill  at  night — in  fact,  for  two  nights  I  could  not  be 
properly  said  to  sleep  at  all.  Now,  my  stateroom  opened 
into  the  main  cabin,  or  dining-room,  as  did  those  of  all  the 
single  men  on  board.  Wyatt's  three  rooms  were  in  the 
after-cabin,  which  was  separated  from  the  main  one  by  a 
slight  sliding  door,  never  locked  even  at  night.  As  we 
were  almost  constantly  on  a  wind,  and  the  breeze  was  not 
a  little  stiff,  the  ship  heeled  to  leeward  very  considerably; 
and  whenever  her  starboard  side  was  to  leeward,  the  sliding 
door  between  the  cabins  slid  open,  and  so  remained,  no- 
body taking  the  trouble  to  get  up  and  shut  it.  But  my 
berth  was  in  such  a  position,  that  when  my  own  stateroom 
door  was  open,  as  well  as  the  sliding  door  in  question,  (and 
my  own  door  was  ahvays  open  on  account  of  the  heat,)  I 


Edgar  Allan  Poe 

could  see  into  the  after-cabin  quite  distinctly,  and  just  at 
that  portion  of  it,  too,  where  were  situated  the  staterooms 
of  Mr.  Wyatt.  Well,  during  two  nights  (not  consecutive) 
while  I  lay  awake,  I  clearly  saw  Mrs.  W.,  about  eleven 
o'clock  upon  each  night,  steal  cautiously  from  the  state- 
room of  Mr.  W.,  and  enter  the  extra  room,  where  she  re- 
mained until  daybreak,  when  she  was  called  by  her  husband 
and  went  back.  That  they  were  virtually  separated  was 
clear.  They  had  separate  apartments — no  doubt  in  contem- 
plation of  a  more  permanent  divorce;  and  here,  after  all, 
I  thought  was  the  mystery  of  the  extra  stateroom. 

There  was  another  circumstance,  too,  which  interested  me 
much.  During  the  two  wakeful  nights  in  question,  and 
immediately  after  the  disappearance  of  Mrs.  Wyatt  into  the 
extra  stateroom,  I  was  attracted  by  certain  singular,  cau- 
tious, subdued  noises  in  that  of  her  husband.  After  listen- 
ing to  them  for  some  time,  with  thoughtful  attention,  I  at 
length  succeeded  perfectly  in  translating  their  import. 
They  were  sounds  occasioned  by  the  artist  in  prying 
open  the  oblong  box,  by  means  of  a  chisel  and  mallet — 
the  latter  being  apparently  muffled,  or  deadened,  by  some 
soft  woolen  or  cotton  substance  in  which  its  head  was 

In  this  manner  I  fancied  I  could  distinguish  the  precise 
moment  when  he  fairly  disengaged  the  lid — also,  that  I 
could  determine  when  he  removed  it  altogether,  and  when 
he  deposited  it  upon  the  lower  berth  in  his  room;  this  latter 
point  I  knew,  for  example,  by  certain  slight  taps  which 
the  lid  made  in  striking  against  the  wooden  edges  of  the 
berth,  as  he  endeavored  to  lay  it  down  very  gently — there 
being  no  room  for  it  on  the  floor.  After  this  there  was  a 
dead  stillness,  and  I  heard  nothing  more,  upon  either  occa- 
sion, until  nearly  daybreak;  unless,  perhaps,  I  may  men- 
tion a  low  sobbing,  or  murmuring  sound,  so  very  much 
suppressed  as  to  be  nearly  inaudible — if,  indeed,  the  whole 
of  this  latter  noise  were  not  rather  produced  by  my  own 
imagination.  I  say  it  seemed  to  resemble  sobbing  or  sigh- 
ing— but,  of  course,  it  could  not  have  been  either.    I  rather 


American  Mystery  Stories 

think  it  was  a  ringing  in  my  own  ears.  Mr.  Wyatt,  no 
doubt,  according  to  custom,  was  merely  giving  the  rein 
to  one  of  his  hobbies — indulging  in  one  of  his  fits  of  artistic 
enthusiasm.  He  had  opened  his  oblong  box,  in  order  to 
feast  his  eyes  on  the  pictorial  treasure  within.  There  was 
nothing  in  this,  however,  to  make  him  sob.  I  repeat,  there- 
fore, that  it  must  have  been  simply  a  freak  of  my  own 
fancy,  distempered  by  good  Captain  Hardy's  green  tea. 
Just  before  dawn,  on  each  of  the  two  nights  of  which  I 
speak,  I  distinctly  heard  Mr.  Wyatt  replace  the  lid  upon 
the  oblong  box,  and  force  the  nails  into  their  old  places 
by  means  of  the  muffled  mallet.  Having  done  this,  he 
issued  from  his  stateroom,  fully  dressed,  and  proceeded  to 
call  Mrs.  W.  from  hers. 

We  had  been  at  sea  seven  days,  and  were  now  off  Cape 
Hatteras,  when  there  came  a  tremendously  heavy  blow  from 
the  southwest.  We  were,  in  a  measure,  prepared  for  it, 
however,  as  the  weather  had  been  holding  out  threats  for 
some  time.  Everything  was  made  snug,  alow  and  aloft; 
and  as  the  wind  steadily  freshened,  we  lay  to,  at  length, 
under  spanker  and  foretopsail,  both  double-reefed. 

In  this  trim  we  rode  safely  enough  for  forty-eight  hours 
— the  ship  proving  herself  an  excellent  sea  boat  in  many 
respects,  and  shipping  no  water  of  any  consequence.  At 
the  end  of  this  period,  however,  the  gale  had  freshened 
into  a  hurricane,  and  our  after-sail  split  into  ribbons,  bring- 
ing us  so  much  in  the  trough  of  the  water  that  we  shipped 
several  prodigious  seas,  one  immediately  after  the  other. 
By  this  accident  we  lost  three  men  overboard  with  the 
caboose,  and  nearly  the  whole  of  the  larboard  bulwarks. 
Scarcely  had  we  recovered  our  senses,  before  the  foretop- 
sail went  into  shreds,  when  we  got  up  a  storm  staysail,  and 
with  this  did  pretty  well  for  some  hours,  the  ship  heading 
the  sea  much  more  steadily  than  before. 

The  gale  still  held  on,  however,  and  we  saw  no  signs  of 
its  abating.  The  rigging  was  found  to  be  ill-fitted,  and 
greatly  strained ;  and  on  the  third  day  of  the  blow,  about 
five  in  the  afternoon,  our  mizzenmast,  in  a  heavy  lurch  to 

1 20 

Edmr  Allan  Poe 


windward,  went  by  the  board.  For  an  hour  or  more,  we 
tried  in  vain  to  get  rid  of  it,  on  account  of  the  prodigious 
rolHng  of  the  ship;  and,  before  we  had  succeeded,  the  car- 
penter came  aft  and  announced  four  feet  water  in  the  hold. 
To  add  to  our  dilemma,  we  found  the  pumps  choked  and 
nearly  useless. 

All  was  now  confusion  and  despair — but  an  effort  was 
made  to  lighten  the  ship  by  throwing  overboard  as  much 
of  her  cargo  as  could  be  reached,  and  by  cutting  away  the 
two  masts  that  remained.  This  we  at  last  accomplished — 
but  we  were  still  unable  to  do  anything  at  the  pumps:  and, 
in  the  meantime,  the  leak  gained  on  us  very  fast. 

At  sundown,  the  gale  had  sensibly  diminished  in  vio- 
lence, and,  as  the  sea  went  down  with  it,  we  still  enter- 
tained faint  hopes  of  saving  ourselves  in  the  boats.  At 
eight  P.  M.,  the  clouds  broke  away  to  windward,  and  we 
had  the  advantage  of  a  full  moon — a  piece  of  good  for- 
tune which  served  wonderfully  to  cheer  our  drooping 

After  incredible  labor  we  succeeded,  at  length,  in  getting 
the  longboat  over  the  side  without  material  accident,  and 
into  this  we  crowded  the  whole  of  the  crew  and  most  of  the 
passengers.  This  party  made  off  immediately,  and,  after 
undergoing  much  suffering,  finally  arrived,  in  safety,  at 
Ocracoke  Inlet,  on  the  third  day  after  the  wreck. 

Fourteen  passengers,  with  the  captain,  remained  on 
board,  resolving  to  trust  their  fortunes  to  the  jolly-boat  at 
the  stern.  We  lowered  it  without  difficulty,  although  it 
was  only  by  a  miracle  that  we  prevented  it  from  swamping 
as  it  touched  the  water.  It  contained,  when  afloat,  the  cap- 
tain and  his  wife,  Mr.  Wyatt  and  party,  a  Mexican  officer, 
wife,  four  children,  and  myself,  with  a  negro  valet. 

We  had  no  room,  of  course,  for  anything  except  a  few 
positively  necessary  instruments,  some  provisions,  and  the 
clothes  upon  our  backs.  No  one  had  thought  of  even  at- 
tempting to  save  anything  more.  What  must  have  been  the 
astonishment  of  all,  then,  when,  having  proceeded  a  few 
fathoms  from  the  ship,  Mr.  Wyatt  stood  up  in  the  stern 


American  Mystery  Stories 

sheets,  and  coolly  demanded  of  Captain  Hardy  that  the  boat 
should  be  put  back  for  the  purpose  of  taking  in  his  oblong 

"  Sit  down,  Mr,  Wyatt,"  replied  the  captain,  somewhat 
sternly,  "  you  will  capsize  us  if  you  do  not  sit  quite  still. 
Our  gunwale  is  almost  in  the  water  now." 

"  The  box!  "  vociferated  Mr.  Wyatt,  still  standing — "  the 
box,  I  say !  Captain  Hardy,  you  cannot,  you  will  not  refuse 
me.  Its  weight  will  be  but  a  trifle — it  is  nothing — mere 
nothing.  By  the  mother  who  bore  you — for  the  love  of 
Heaven — by  your  hope  of  salvation,  I  implore  you  to  put 
back  for  the  box!  " 

The  captain,  for  a  moment,  seemed  touched  by  the  ear- 
nest appeal  of  the  artist,  but  he  regained  his  stern  com- 
posure, and  merely  said: 

"  Mr.  Wyatt,  you  are  mad.  I  cannot  listen  to  you.  Sit 
down,  I  say,  or  you  will  swamp  the  boat.  Stay — hold  him 
— seize  him! — he  is  about  to  spring  overboard!  There — I 
knew  it — he  is  over!  " 

As  the  captain  said  this,  Mr.  Wyatt,  in  fact,  sprang  from 
the  boat,  and,  as  we  were  yet  in  the  lee  of  the  wreck,  suc- 
ceeded, by  almost  superhuman  exertion,  in  getting  hold 
of  a  rope  which  hung  from  the  fore-chains.  In  another  mo- 
ment he  was  on  board,  and  rushing  frantically  down  into 
the  cabin. 

In  the  meantime,  we  had  been  swept  astern  of  the  ship, 
and  being  quite  out  of  her  lee,  were  at  the  mercy  of  the 
tremendous  sea  which  was  still  running.  We  made  a  deter- 
mined effort  to  put  back,  but  our  little  boat  was  like  a 
feather  in  the  breath  of  the  tempest.  We  saw  at  a  glance 
that  the  doom  of  the  unfortunate  artist  was  sealed. 

As  our  distance  from  the  wreck  rapidly  increased,  the 
madman  (for  as  such  only  could  we  regard  him)  was  seen 
to  emerge  from  the  companion-way,  up  which  by  dint  of 
strength  that  appeared  gigantic,  he  dragged,  bodily,  the 
oblong  box.  While  we  gazed  in  the  extremity  of  astonish- 
ment, he  passed,  rapidly,  several  turns  of  a  three-inch  rope, 
first  around  the  box  and  then  around  his  body.    In  another 


Ed^ar  Allan  Poe 


instant  both  body  and  box  were  in  the  sea — disappearing 
suddenly,  at  once  and  forever. 

We  lingered  awhile  sadly  upon  our  oars,  with  our  eyes 
riveted  upon  the  spot.  At  length  we  pulled  away.  The 
silence  remained  unbroken  for  an  hour.  Finally,  I  hazarded 
a  remark. 

"  Did  you  observe,  captain,  how  suddenly  they  sank? 
Was  not  that  an  exceedingly  singular  thing?  I  confess  that 
I  entertained  some  feeble  hope  of  his  final  deliverance,  when 
I  saw  him  lash  himself  to  the  box,  and  commit  himself  to 
the  sea." 

"  They  sank  as  a  matter  of  course,"  replied  the  captain, 
*'  and  that  like  a  shot.  They  will  soon  rise  again,  however 
— but  not  till  the  salt  melts." 

"The  salt!"  I  ejaculated. 

"  Hush!  "  said  the  captain,  pointing  to  the  wife  and  sis- 
ters of  the  deceased.  "  We  must  talk  of  these  things  at 
some  more  appropriate  time." 

We  suflfered  much,  and  made  a  narrow  escape;  but  for- 
tune befriended  us,  as  well  as  our  mates  in  the  longboat. 
We  landed,  in  fine,  more  dead  than  alive,  after  four  days 
of  intense  distress,  upon  the  beach  opposite  Roanoke  Is- 
land. We  remained  here  a  week,  were  not  ill-treated  by 
the  wreckers,  and  at  length  obtained  a  passage  to  New 

About  a  month  after  the  loss  of  the  "  Independence,"  I 
happened  to  meet  Captain  Hardy  in  Broadway.  Our  con- 
versation turned,  naturally,  upon  the  disaster,  and  especially 
upon  the  sad  fate  of  poor  Wyatt.  I  thus  learned  the  fol- 
lowing particulars : 

The  artist  had  engaged  passage  for  himself,  wife,  two 
sisters  and  a  servant.  His  wife  was,  indeed,  as  she  had 
been  represented,  a  most  lovely,  and  most  accomplished 
woman.  On  the  morning  of  the  fourteenth  of  June  (the 
day  in  which  I  first  visited  the  ship),  the  lady  suddenly  sick- 
ened and  died.  The  young  husband  was  frantic  with  grief 
— but  circumstances  imperatively  forbade  the  deferring  his 


American  Mystery  Stories 

voyage  to  New  York.  It  was  necessary  to  take  to  her 
mother  the  corpse  of  his  adored  wife,  and,  on  the  other 
hand,  the  universal  prejudice  which  would  prevent  his  do- 
ing so  openly  was  well  known.  Nine  tenths  of  the  passen- 
gers would  have  abandoned  the  ship  rather  than  take  pas- 
sage with  a  dead  body. 

In  this  dilemma,  Captain  Hardy  arranged  that  the  corpse, 
being  first  partially  embalmed,  and  packed,  with  a  large 
quantity  of  salt,  in  a  box  of  suitable  dimensions,  should  be 
conveyed  on  board  as  merchandise.  Nothing  was  to  be 
said  of  the  lady's  decease;  and,  as  it  was  well  understood 
that  Mr.  Wyatt  had  engaged  passage  for  his  wife,  it  became 
necessary  that  some  person  should  personate  her  during 
the  voyage.  This  the  deceased  lady's-maid  was  easily  pre- 
vailed on  to  do.  The  extra  stateroom,  originally  engaged 
for  this  girl,  during  her  mistress'  life,  was  now  merely  re- 
tained. In  this  stateroom  the  pseudo  wife  slept,  of  course, 
every  night.  In  the  daytime  she  performed,  to  the  best  of 
her  ability,  the  part  of  her  mistress — whose  person,  it  had 
been  carefully  ascertained,  was  unknown  to  any  of  the  pas- 
sengers on  board. 

My  own  mistake  arose,  naturally  enough,  through  too 
careless,  too  inquisitive,  and  too  impulsive  a  temperament. 
But  of  late,  it  is  a  rare  thing  that  I  sleep  soundly  at  night. 
There  is  a  countenance  which  haunts  me,  turn  as  I  will. 
There  is  an  hysterical  laugh  which  will  forever  ring  within 
my  ears. 

T/ie  Gold-Bug 

What  ho!  what  ho!  this  fellow  is  dancing  mad! 
He  hath  been  bitten  by  the  Tarantula. 

— All  in  the  Wrong. 

Many  years  ago,  I  contracted  an  intimacy  with  a  Mr. 
William  Legrand.  He  was  of  an  ancient  Huguenot  fam- 
ily, and  had  once  been  wealthy:  but  a  series  of  misfor- 


Edzar  Allan  Poc 


tunes  had  reduced  him  to  want.  To  avoid  the  mortifica- 
tion consequent  upon  his  disasters,  he  left  New  Orleans, 
the  city  of  his  forefathers,  and  took  up  his  residence  at 
Sullivan's  Island,  near  Charleston,  South  Carolina. 

This  island  is  a  very  singular  one.  It  consists  of  little 
else  than  the  sea  sand,  and  is  about  three  miles  long.  Its 
breadth  at  no  point  exceeds  a  quarter  of  a  mile.  It  is  sepa- 
rated from  the  mainland  by  a  scarcely  perceptible  creek, 
oozing  its  way  through  a  wilderness  of  reeds  and  slime,  a 
favorite  resort  of  the  marsh  hen.  The  vegetation,  as  might 
be  supposed,  is  scant,  or  at  least  dwarfish.  No  trees  of  any 
magnitude  are  to  be  seen.  Near  the  western  extremity, 
where  Fort  Moultrie  stands,  and  where  are  some  miserable 
frame  buildings,  tenanted,  during  summer,  by  the  fugitives 
from  Charleston  dust  and  fever,  may  be  found,  indeed,  the 
bristly  palmetto ;  but  the  whole  island,  with  the  exception 
of  this  western  point,  and  a  line  of  hard,  white  beach  on 
the  seacoast,  is  covered  with  a  dense  undergrowth  of  the 
sweet  myrtle  so  much  prized  by  the  horticulturists  of  Eng- 
land. The  shrub  here  often  attains  the  height  of  fifteen  or 
twenty  feet,  and  forms  an  almost  impenetrable  coppice, 
burdening  the  air  with  its  fragrance. 

In  the  inmost  recesses  of  this  coppice,  not  far  from  the 
eastern  or  more  remote  end  of  the  island,  Legrand  had 
built  himself  a  small  hut,  which  he  occupied  when  I  first,  by 
mere  accident,  made  his  acquaintance.  This  soon  ripened 
into  friendship — for  there  was  much  in  the  recluse  to  ex- 
cite interest  and  esteem.  I  found  him  well  educated,  with 
unusual  powers  of  mind,  but  infected  with  misanthropy, 
and  subject  to  perverse  moods  of  alternate  enthusiasm  and 
melancholy.  He  had  with  him  many  books,  but  rarely  em- 
ployed them.  His  chief  amusements  were  gunning  and 
fishing,  or  sauntering  along  the  beach  and  through  the  myr- 
tles, in  quest  of  shells  or  entomological  specimens — his  col- 
lection of  the  latter  might  have  been  envied  by  a  Swammer- 
damm.  In  these  excursions  he  was  usually  accompanied 
by  an  old  negro,  called  Jupiter,  who  had  been  manumitted 
before  the  reverses  of  the  family,  but  who  could  be  induced, 


American  Mystery  Stories 

neither  by  threats  nor  by  promises,  to  abandon  what  he  con- 
sidered his  right  of  attendance  upon  the  footsteps  of  his 
young  "  Massa  Will."  It  is  not  improbable  that  the  relatives 
of  Legrand,  conceiving  him  to  be  somewhat  unsettled  in 
intellect,  had  contrived  to  instill  this  obstinacy  into  Jupiter, 
with  a  view  to  the  supervision  and  guardianship  of  the 

The  winters  in  the  latitude  of  Sullivan's  Island  are  sel- 
dom very  severe,  and  in  the  fall  of  the  year  it  is  a  rare 
event  indeed  when  a  fire  is  considered  necessary.  About 
the  middle  of  October,  i8 — ,  there  occurred,  however,  a  day 
of  remarkable  chilliness.  Just  before  sunset  I  scrambled 
my  way  through  the  evergreens  to  the  hut  of  my  friend, 
whom  I  had  not  visited  for  several  weeks — my  residence 
being,  at  that  time,  in  Charleston,  a  distance  of  nine  miles 
from  the  island,  while  the  facilities  of  passage  and  repas- 
sage  were  very  far  behind  those  of  the  present  day.  Upon 
reaching  the  hut  I  rapped,  as  was  my  custom,  and  getting 
no  reply,  sought  for  the  key  where  I  knew  it  was  secreted, 
unlocked  the  door,  and  went  in.  A  fine  fire  was  blazing 
upon  the  hearth.  It  was  a  novelty,  and  by  no  means  an 
ungrateful  one.  I  threw  off  an  overcoat,  took  an  armchair 
by  the  crackling  logs,  and  awaited  patiently  the  arrival  of 
my  hosts. 

Soon  after  dark  they  arrived,  and  gave  me  a  most  cordial 
w^elcome.  Jupiter,  grinning  from  ear  to  ear,  bustled  about 
to  prepare  some  marsh  hens  for  supper.  Legrand  was  in 
one  of  his  fits — how  else  shall  I  term  them? — of  enthusiasm. 
He  had  found  an  unknown  bivalve,  forming  a  new  genus, 
and,  more  than  this,  he  had  hunted  down  and  secured,  with 
Jupiter's  assistance,  a  scarahmis  which  he  believed  to  be 
totally  new,  but  in  respect  to  which  he  wished  to  have  my 
opinion  on  the  morrow. 

"  And  why  not  to-night  ?  "  I  asked,  rubbing  my  hands 
over  the  blaze,  and  wishing  the  whole  tribe  of  scarabcei  at 
the  devil. 

"  Ah,  if  I  had  only  known  you  were  here !  "  said  Le- 
grand, "  but  it's  so  long  since  I  saw  you ;  and  how  could  I 


Edgar  Allan  Poc 

foresee  that  you  would  pay  me  a  visit  this  very  night  of 

all  others  ?    As  I  was  coming  home  I  met  Lieutenant  G , 

from  the  fort,  and,  very  foolishly,  I  lent  him  the  bug;  so 
it  will  be  impossible  for  you  to  see  it  until  the  morning. 
Stay  here  to-night,  and  I  will  send  Jup  down  for  it  at  sun- 
rise.   It  is  the  loveliest  thing  in  creation !  " 

"What?— sunrise?" 

"  Nonsense !  no ! — the  bug.  It  is  of  a  brilliant  gold  color 
— about  the  size  of  a  large  hickory  nut — with  two  jet  black 
spots  near  one  extremity  of  the  back,  and  another,  some- 
what longer,  at  the  other.    The  antennae  are " 

"  Dey  ain't  no  tin  in  him,  Massa  Will,  I  keep  a  tellin' 
on  you,"  here  interrupted  Jupiter ;  "  de  bug  is  a  goole-bug, 
solid,  ebery  bit  of  him,  inside  and  all,  sep  him  wing — nebcr 
feel  half  so  hebby  a  bug  in  my  life." 

"  Well,  suppose  it  is,  Jup,"  replied  Legrand,  somewhat 
more  earnestly,  it  seemed  to  me,  than  the  case  demanded; 
"  is  that  any  reason  for  your  letting  the  birds  burn  ?  The 
color  " — here  he  turned  to  me — "  is  really  almost  enough 
to  warrant  Jupiter's  idea.  You  never  saw  a  more  brilliant 
metallic  luster  than  the  scales  emit — but  of  this  you  can- 
not judge  till  to-morrow.  In  the  meantime  I  can  give 
you  some  idea  of  the  shape."  Saying  this,  he  seated  him- 
self at  a  small  table,  on  which  were  a  pen  and  ink,  but 
no  paper.  He  looked  for  some  in  a  drawer,  but  found 

"  Never  mind,"  he  said  at  length,  "  this  will  answer ;  " 
and  he  drew  from  his  waistcoat  pocket  a  scrap  of  what 
I  took  to  be  very  dirty  foolscap,  and  made  upon  it  a  rough 
drawing  with  the  pen.  While  he  did  this,  I  retained  my 
seat  by  the  fire,  for  I  was  still  chilly.  When  the  design 
was  complete,  he  handed  it  to  me  without  rising.  As  I 
received  it,  a  loud  growl  was  heard,  succeeded  by  a  scratch- 
ing at  the  door.  Jupiter  opened  it,  and  a  large  Newfound- 
land, belonging  to  Legrand,  rushed  in,  leaped  upon  my 
shoulders,  and  loaded  me  with  caresses ;  for  I  had  shown 
him  much  attention  during  previous  visits.  When  his  gam- 
bols were  over,  I  looked  at  the  paper,  and,  to  speak  the 


American  Mystery  Stories 

truth,  found  myself  not  a  little  puzzled  at  what  my  friend 
had  depicted. 

"  Well !  "  I  said,  after  contemplating  it  for  some  min- 
utes, "  this  is  a  strange  scarabarus,  I  must  confess ;  new  to 
me;  never  saw  anything  like  it  before — unless  it  was  a 
skull,  or  a  death's  head,  which  it  more  nearly  resembles 
than  anything  else  that  has  come  under  viy  observation." 

"  A  death's  head  !  "  echoed  Legrand.  "  Oh — yes — well, 
it  has  something  of  that  appearance  upon  paper,  no  doubt. 
The  two  upper  black  spots  look  like  eyes,  eh  ?  and  the  longer 
one  at  the  bottom  like  a  mouth — and  then  the  shape  of  the 
whole  is  oval." 

"  Perhaps  so,"  said  I ;  "  but,  Legrand,  I  fear  you  are  no 
artist.  I  must  wait  until  I  see  the  beetle  itself,  if  I  am  to 
form  any  idea  of  its  personal  appearance." 

"  Well,  I  don't  know,"  said  he,  a  httle  nettled,  "  I  draw 
tolerably — should  do  it  at  least — have  had  good  masters, 
and  flatter  myself  that  I  am  not  quite  a  blockhead." 

"  But,  my  dear  fellow,  you  are  joking  then,"  said  I,  "  this 
is  a  very  passable  skull — indeed,  I  may  say  that  it  is  a  very 
excellent  skull,  according  to  the  vulgar  notions  about  such 
specimens  of  physiology — and  your  scarabceus  must  be  the 
queerest  scarabceus  in  the  world  if  it  resembles  it.  Why, 
we  may  get  up  a  very  thrilling  bit  of  superstition  upon  this 
hint.  I  presume  you  will  call  the  bug  Scarabceus  caput 
hominis,  or  something  of  that  kind — ^there  are  many  similar 
titles  in  the  Natural  Histories.  But  where  are  the  antenncB 
you  spoke  of  ?  " 

''The  autennce!"  said  Legrand,  who  seemed  to  be  get- 
ting unaccountably  warm  upon  the  subject;  "I  am  sure 
you  must  see  the  antennce.  I  made  them  as  distinct  as 
they  are  in  the  original  insect,  and  I  presume  that  is  suf- 

"Well,  well,"  I  said,  "perhaps  you  have— still  I  don't 
see  them ;  "  and  I  handed  him  the  paper  without  additional 
remark,  not  wishing  to  ruffle  his  temper ;  but  I  was  much 
surprised  at  the  turn  affairs  had  taken ;  his  ill  humor  puz- 
zled me— and,  as  for  the  drawing  of  the  beetle,  there  were 


Edzar  Allan  Poe 


positively  no  antenna  visible,  and  the  whole  did  bear  a 
very  close  resemblance  to  the  ordinary  cuts  of  a  death's 

He  received  the  paper  very  peevishly,  and  was  about  to 
crumple  it,  apparently  to  throw  it  in  the  fire,  when  a  casual 
glance  at  the  design  seemed  suddenly  to  rivet  his  attention. 
In  an  instant  his  face  grew  violently  red — in  another  ex- 
cessively pale.  For  some  minutes  he  continued  to  scrutinize 
the  drawing  minutely  where  he  sat.  At  length  he  arose, 
took  a  candle  from  the  table,  and  proceeded  to  seat  himself 
upon  a  sea  chest  in  the  farthest  corner  of  the  room.  Here 
again  he  made  an  anxious  examination  of  the  paper,  turn- 
ing it  in  all  directions.  He  said  nothing,  however,  and  his 
conduct  greatly  astonished  me ;  yet  I  thought  it  prudent  not 
to  exacerbate  the  growing  moodiness  of  his  temper  by  any 
comment.  Presently  he  took  from  his  coat  pocket  a  wallet, 
placed  the  paper  carefully  in  it,  and  deposited  both  in  a 
writing  desk,  which  he  locked.  He  now  grew  more  com- 
posed in  his  demeanor;  but  his  original  air  of  enthusiasm 
had  quite  disappeared.  Yet  he  seemed  not  so  much  sulky 
as  abstracted.  As  the  evening  wore  away  he  became  more 
and  more  absorbed  in  reverie,  from  which  no  sallies  of  mine 
covild  arouse  him.  It  had  been  my  intention  to  pass  the 
night  at  the  hut,  as  I  had  frequently  done  before,  but,  see- 
ing my  host  in  this  mood,  I  deemed  it  proper  to  take  leave. 
He  did  not  press  me  to  remain,  but,  as  I  departed,  he  shook 
my  hand  with  even  more  than  his  usual  cordiality. 

It  was  about  a  month  after  this  (and  during  the  interval 
I  had  seen  nothing  of  Legrand)  when  I  received  a  visit,  at 
Charleston,  from  his  man,  Jupiter.  I  had  never  seen  the 
good  old  negro  look  so  dispirited,  and  I  feared  that  some 
serious  disaster  had  befallen  my  friend. 

"  Well,  Jup,"  said  I,  "  what  is  the  matter  now  ? — how  is 
your  master  ?  " 

"  Why,  to  speak  the  troof,  massa,  him  not  so  berry  well 
as  mought  be." 

"  Not  well !  I  am  truly  sorry  to  hear  it.  What  does  he 
complain  of?  " 


American  Mystery  Stories 


Dar!   dot's  it! — him  neber   'plain   of  notin' — ^but  him 
berry  sick  for  all  dat." 

**  Very  sick,  Jupiter! — why  didn't  you  say  so  at  once? 
Is  he  confined  to  bed  ?  " 

"No,  dat  he  aint! — he  aint  'fin'd  nowhar — dat's  just 
whar  de  shoe  pinch — my  mind  is  got  to  be  berry  hebby  'bout 
poor  Massa  Will." 

"  Jupiter,  I  should  like  to  understand  what  it  is  you  are 
talking  about.  You  say  your  master  is  sick.  Hasn't  he 
told  you  what  ails  him  ?  " 

"  Why,  massa,  'taint  worf  while  for  to  git  mad  about  de 
matter — Massa  Will  say  noffin  at  all  aint  de  matter  wid 
him — but  den  what  make  him  go  about  looking  dis  here 
way,  wid  he  head  down  and  he  soldiers  up,  and  as  white 
as  a  goose  ?    And  den  he  keep  a  syphon  all  de  time " 

"  Keeps  a  what,  Jupiter?  " 

"  Keeps  a  syphon  wid  de  figgurs  on  de  slate — de  queerest 
figgurs  I  ebber  did  see.  Ise  gittin'  to  be  skeered,  I  tell 
you.  Hab  for  to  keep  mighty  tight  eye  'pon  him  'noovers. 
Todder  day  he  gib  me  slip  'fore  de  sun  up  and  was  gone 
de  whole  ob  de  blessed  day.  I  had  a  big  stick  ready  cut 
for  to  gib  him  deuced  good  beating  when  he  did  come — 
but  Ise  sich  a  fool  dat  I  hadn't  de  heart  arter  all — he  looked 
so  berry  poorly." 

"  Eh  ? — what  ? — ah  yes ! — upon  the  whole  I  think  you  had 
better  not  be  too  severe  with  the  poor  fellow — don't  flog 
him,  Jupiter — he  can't  very  well  stand  it — but  can  you  form 
no  idea  of  what  has  occasioned  this  illness,  or  rather  this 
change  of  conduct?  Has  anything  unpleasant  happened 
since  I  saw  you?  " 

"  No,  massa,  dey  aint  bin  noffin  onpleasant  since  den — 
'twas  'fore  den  I'm  feared — 'twas  de  berry  day  you  was 

'*  How  ?  what  do  you  mean  ?  " 

"  Why,  massa,  I  mean  de  bug — dare  now." 

"The  what?" 

"  De  bug — I'm  berry  sartin  dat  Massa  Will  bin  bit  some- 
where 'bout  de  head  by  dat  goole-bug." 


Edzar  Allan  Poe 


"  And  what  cause  have  you,  Jupiter,  for  such  a  sup- 
position ?  " 

"  Claws  enuff,  massa,  and  mouff,  too.  I  nebber  did  see 
sich  a  deuced  bug — he  kick  and  he  bite  eberyting  what 
cum  near  him.  Massa  Will  cotch  him  fuss,  but  had  for  to 
let  him  go  'gin  mighty  quick,  I  tell  you — den  was  de  time 
he  must  ha'  got  de  bite.  I  didn't  like  de  look  ob  de  bug 
moufif,  myself,  nohow,  so  I  wouldn't  take  hold  ob  him  wid 
my  finger,  but  I  cotch  him  wid  a  piece  ob  paper  dat  I  found. 
I  rap  him  up  in  de  paper  and  stuff  a  piece  of  it  in  he  mouff 
— dat  was  de  way." 

'*  And  you  think,  then,  that  your  master  was  really  bitten 
by  the  beetle,  and  that  the  bite  made  him  sick  ?  " 

"  I  don't  think  noffin  about  it — I  nose  it.  What  make 
him  dream  'bout  de  goole  so  much,  if  'taint  cause  he  bit 
by  the  goole-bug?  Ise  heered  'bout  dem  goole-bugs  'fore 

"  But  how  do  you  know  he  dreams  about  gold  ?  " 

"  How  I  know  ?  why,  'cause  he  talk  about  it  in  he  sleep — 
dat's  how  I  nose." 

"  Well,  Jup,  perhaps  you  are  right ;  but  to  what  fortu- 
nate circumstance  am  I  to  attribute  the  honor  of  a  visit 
from  you  to-day  ?  " 

"  What  de  matter,  massa  ?  " 

"Did  you  bring  any  message  from  Mr.  Legrand?" 

"  No,  massa,  I  bring  dis  here  pissel ; "  and  here  Jupiter 
handed  me  a  note  which  ran  thus : 

"  My  Dear  

"  Why  have  I  not  seen  you  for  so  long  a  time  ?  I  hope 
you  have  not  been  so  foolish  as  to  take  offense  at  any  little 
brusquerie  of  mine ;  but  no,  that  is  improbable. 

"  Since  I  saw  you  I  have  had  great  cause  for  anxiety. 
I  have  something  to  tell  you,  yet  scarcely  know  how  to  tell 
it,  or  whether  I  should  tell  it  at  all. 

"  I  have  not  been  quite  well  for  some  days  past,  and  poor 
old  Jup  annoys  me,  almost  beyond  endurance,  by  his  well- 
meant  attentions.    Would  you  believe  it? — he  had  prepared 


American  Mystery  Stories 

a  huge  stick,  the  other  day,  with  which  to  chastise  me  for 
giving  him  the  sHp,  and  spending  the  day,  solus,  among 
the  hills  on  the  mainland.  I  verily  believe  that  my  ill  looks 
alone  saved  me  a  flogging. 

"  I  have  made  no  addition  to  my  cabinet  since  we  met. 

"If  you  can,  in  any  way,  make  it  convenient,  come  over 
with  Jupiter.  Do  come.  I  wish  to  see  you  to-night,  upon 
business  of  importance.  I  assure  you  that  it  is  of  the 
highest  importance. 

"  Ever  yours, 

"  William  Legrand." 

There  was  something  in  the  tone  of  this  note  which  gave 
me  great  uneasiness.  Its  whole  style  differed  materially 
from  that  of  Legrand.  What  could  he  be  dreaming  of? 
What  new  crotchet  possessed  his  excitable  brain?  What 
"  business  of  the  highest  importance "  could  he  possibly 
have  to  transact  ?  Jupiter's  account  of  him  boded  no  good. 
I  dreaded  lest  the  continued  pressure  of  misfortune  had,  at 
length,  fairly  unsettled  the  reason  of  my  friend.  Without 
a  moment's  hesitation,  therefore,  I  prepared  to  accompany 
the  negro. 

Upon  reaching  the  wharf,  I  noticed  a  scythe  and  three 
spades,  all  apparently  new,  lying  in  the  bottom  of  the  boat 
in  which  we  were  to  embark. 

"  What  is  the  meaning  of  all  this,  Jup  ?  "  I  inquired. 

"  Him  syfe,  massa,  and  spade." 

"  Very  true ;  but  what  are  they  doing  here  ?  " 

"  Him  de  syfe  and  de  spade  what  Massa  Will  sis  'pon 
my  buying  for  him  in  de  town,  and  de  debbil's  own  lot  of 
money  I  had  to  gib  for  'em." 

"  But  what,  in  the  name  of  all  that  is  mysterious,  is  your 
*  Massa  Will '  going  to  do  with  scythes  and  spades  ?  " 

''  Dat's  more  dan  /  know,  and  debbil  take  me  if  I  don't 
b'lieve  'tis  more  dan  he  know  too.  But  it's  all  cum  ob 
de  bug." 

Finding  that  no  satisfaction  was  to  be  obtained  of  Jupiter, 
whose  whole  intellect  seemed  to  be  absorbed  by  "  de  bug," 


Edzar  Allan  Poe 


I  now  stepped  into  the  boat,  and  made  sail.  With  a  fair 
and  strong  breeze  we  soon  ran  into  the  little  cove  to  the 
northward  of  Fort  Moultrie,  and  a  walk  of  some  two  miles 
brought  us  to  the  hut.  It  was  about  three  in  the  afternoon 
when  we  arrived.  Legrand  had  been  awaiting  us  in  eager 
expectation.  He  grasped  my  hand  with  a  nervous  em- 
pressement  which  alarmed  me  and  strengthened  the  sus- 
picions already  entertained.  His  countenance  was  pale  even 
to  ghastliness,  and  his  deep-set  eyes  glared  with  unnatural 
luster.  After  some  inquiries  respecting  his  health,  I  asked 
him,  not  knowing  what  better  to  say,  if  he  had  yet  obtained 
the  ^scarabcEus  from  Lieutenant  G . 

"  Oh,  yes,"  he  replied,  coloring  violently,  "  I  got  it  from 
him  the  next  morning.  Nothing  should  tempt  me  to  part 
with  that  scarabcciis.  Do  you  know  that  Jupiter  is  quite 
right  about  it  ?  " 

"  In  what  way  ?  "  I  asked,  with  a  sad  foreboding  at  heart. 

"  In  supposing  it  to  be  a  bug  of  real  gold."  He  said  this 
with  an  air  of  profound  seriousness,  and  I  felt  inexpressibly 

"  This  bug  is  to  make  my  fortune,"  he  continued,  with 
a  triumphant  smile ;  "  to  reinstate  me  in  my  family  posses- 
sions. Is  it  any  wonder,  then,  that  I  prize  it?  Since  For- 
tune has  thought  fit  to  bestow  it  upon  me,  I  have  only  to 
use  it  properly,  and  I  shall  arrive  at  the  gold  of  which  it 
is  the  index.     Jupiter,  bring  me  that  scarabaus!" 

"What!  de  bug,  massa?  I'd  rudder  not  go  fer  trubble 
dat  bug;  you  mus'  git  him  for  your  own  self."  Hereupon 
Legrand  arose,  with  a  grave  and  stately  air,  and  brought 
me  the  beetle  from  a  glass  case  in  which  it  was  enclosed. 
It  was  a  beautiful  scar  abacus,  and,  at  that  time,  unknown 
to  naturalists — of  course  a  great  prize  in  a  scientific  point 
of  view.  There  were  two  round  black  spots  near  one  ex- 
tremity of  the  back,  and  a  long  one  near  the  other.  The 
scales  were  exceedingly  hard  and  glossy,  with  all  the  ap- 
pearance of  burnished  gold.  The  weight  of  the  insect  was 
very  remarkable,  and,  taking  all  things  into  consideration, 
I  could  hardly  blame  Jupiter  for  his  opinion  respecting  it; 


American  Mystery  Stories 

but  what  to  make  of  Legrand's  concordance  with  that  opin- 
ion, I  could  not,  for  the  life  of  me,  tell. 

"  I  sent  for  you,"  said  he,  in  a  grandiloquent  tone,  when 
I  had  completed  my  examination  of  the  beetle,  "  I  sent  for 
you  that  I  might  have  your  counsel  and  assistance  in  fur- 
thering the  views  of  Fate  and  of  the  bug " 

"  My  dear  Legrand,"  I  cried,  interrupting  him,  "  you 
are  certainly  unwell,  and  had  better  use  some  little  precau- 
tions. You  shall  go  to  bed,  and  I  will  remain  with  you  a 
few  davs,  until  you  get  over  this.  You  are  feverish 
and '-" 

"  Feel  my  pulse,"  said  he. 

I  felt  it,  and,  to  say  the  truth,  found  not  the  slightest 
indication  of  fever. 

"  But  you  may  be  ill  and  yet  have  no  fever.  Allow  me 
this  once  to  prescribe  for  you.  In  the  first  place  go  to  bed. 
In  the  next " 

"  You  are  mistaken,"  he  interposed,  "  I  am  as  well  as 
I  can  expect  to  be  under  the  excitement  which  I  sufifer. 
If  you  really  wish  me  well,  you  will  relieve  this  excite- 

"  And  how  is  this  to  be  done  ?  " 

"  Very  easily.  Jupiter  and  myself  are  going  upon  an 
expedition  into  the  hills,  upon  the  mainland,  and,  in  this 
expedition,  we  shall  need  the  aid  of  some  person  in  whom 
we  can  confide.  You  are  the  only  one  we  can  trust. 
Whether  we  succeed  or  fail,  the  excitement  which  you  now 
perceive  in  me  will  be  equally  allayed." 

"  I  am  anxious  to  oblige  you  in  any  way,"  I  replied ; 
"  but  do  you  mean  to  say  that  this  infernal  beetle  has  any 
connection  with  your  expedition  into  the  hills  ?  " 

"  It  has." 

"  Then,  Legrand,  I  can  become  a  party  to  no  such  absurd 

"  I  am  sorry — very  sorry — for  we  shall  have  to  try  it  by 

"  Try  it  by  yourselves  1  The  man  is  surely  mad ! — but 
stay ! — how  long  do  you  propose  to  be  absent  ?  " 


Edzar  Allan  Poe 


"  Probably  all  night.  We  shall  start  immediately,  and 
be  back,  at  all  events,  by  sunrise." 

"  And  will  you  promise  me,  upon  your  honor,  that  when 
this  freak  of  yours  is  over,  and  the  bug  business  (good 
God!)  settled  to  your  satisfaction,  you  will  then  return 
home  and  follow  my  advice  implicitly,  as  that  of  your 
physician  ?  " 

"  Yes ;  I  promise ;  and  now  let  us  be  off,  for  we  have  no 
time  to  lose." 

With  a  heavy  heart  I  accompanied  my  friend.  We  started 
about  four  o'clock — Legrand,  Jupiter,  the  dog,  and  myself. 
Jupiter  had  with  him  the  scythe  and  spades — the  whole  of 
which  he  insisted  upon  carrying — more  through  fear,  it 
seemed  to  me,  of  trusting  either  of  the  implements  within 
reach  of  his  master,  than  from  any  excess  of  industry  or 
complaisance.  His  demeanor  was  dogged  in  the  extreme, 
and  "  dat  deuced  bug  "  were  the  sole  words  which  escaped 
his  lips  during  the  journey.  For  my  own  part,  I  had  charge 
of  a  couple  of  dark  lanterns,  while  Legrand  contented  him- 
self with  the  scarahcEus,  which  he  carried  attached  to  the 
end  of  a  bit  of  whipcord ;  twirling  it  to  and  fro,  with  the 
air  of  a  conjurer,  as  he  went.  When  I  observed  this  last, 
plain  evidence  of  my  friend's  aberration  of  mind,  I  could 
scarcely  refrain  from  tears.  I  thought  it  best,  however,  to 
humor  his  fancy,  at  least  for  the  present,  or  until  I  could 
adopt  some  more  energetic  measures  with  a  chance  of  suc- 
cess. In  the  meantime  I  endeavored,  but  all  in  vain,  to 
sound  him  in  regard  to  the  object  of  the  expedition.  Hav- 
ing succeeded  in  inducing  me  to  accompany  him,  he  seemed 
unwilling  to  hold  conversation  upon  any  topic  of  minor 
importance,  and  to  all  my  questions  vouchsafed  no  other 
reply  than  "  we  shall  see !  " 

We  crossed  the  creek  at  the  head  of  the  island  by  means 
of  a  skiff,  and,  ascending  the  high  grounds  on  the  shore 
of  the  mainland,  proceeded  in  a  northwesterly  direction, 
through  a  tract  of  country  excessively  wild  and  desolate, 
where  no  trace  of  a  human  footstep  was  to  be  seen.  Le- 
grand led  the  way  with  decision ;  pausing  only  for  an  in- 


American  Mystery  Stories 

stant,  here  and  there,  to  consult  what  appeared  to  be  certain 
landmarks  of  his  own  contrivance  upon  a  former  occasion. 

In  this  manner  we  journeyed  for  about  two  hours,  and  the 
sun  was  just  setting  when  we  entered  a  region  infinitely 
more  dreary  than  any  yet  seen.  It  was  a  species  of  table- 
land, near  the  summit  of  an  almost  inaccessible  hill,  densely 
wooded  from  base  to  pinnacle,  and  interspersed  with  huge 
crags  that  appeared  to  lie  loosely  upon  the  soil,  and  in  many 
cases  were  prevented  from  precipitating  themselves  into  the 
valleys  below,  merely  by  the  support  of  the  trees  against 
which  they  reclined.  Deep  ravines,  in  various  directions, 
gave  an  air  of  still  sterner  solemnity  to  the  scene. 

The  natural  platform  to  which  we  had  clambered  was 
thickly  overgrown  with  brambles,  through  which  we  soon 
discovered  that  it  would  have  been  impossible  to  force  our 
way  but  for  the  scythe;  and  Jupiter,  by  direction  of  his 
master,  proceeded  to  clear  for  us  a  path  to  the  foot  of  an 
enormously  tall  tulip  tree,  which  stood,  with  some  eight  or 
ten  oaks,  upon  the  level,  and  far  surpassed  them  all,  and 
all  other  trees  which  I  had  then  ever  seen,  in  the  beauty  of 
its  foliage  and  form,  in  the  wide  spread  of  its  branches, 
and  in  the  general  majesty  of  its  appearance.  When  we 
reached  this  tree,  Legrand  turned  to  Jupiter,  and  asked  him 
if  he  thought  he  could  climb  it.  The  old  man  seemed  a 
little  staggered  by  the  question,  and  for  some  moments 
made  no  reply.  At  length  he  approached  the  huge  trunk, 
walked  slowly  around  it,  and  examined  it  with  minute  atten- 
tion.   When  he  had  completed  his  scrutiny,  he  merely  said : 

"  Yes,  massa,  Jup  climb  any  tree  he  ebber  see  in  he  life." 

"  Then  up  with  you  as  soon  as  possible,  for  it  will  soon 
be  too  dark  to  see  what  we  are  about." 

"How  far  mus'  go  up,  massa?"  inquired  Jupiter. 

"  Get  up  the  main  trunk  first,  and  then  I  will  tell  you 
which  wav  to  go — and  here — stop!  take  this  beetle  with 

"  De  bug,  Massa  Will! — de  goole-bug!  "  cried  the  negro, 
drawing  back  in  dismay — "  what  for  mus'  tote  de  bug  way 
up  de  tree  ? — d — n  if  I  do !  " 


Edgar  Allan  Poe 

"If  you  are  afraid,  Jup,  a  great  big  negro  like  you,  to 
take  hold  of  a  harmless  little  dead  beetle,  why  you  can  carry 
it  up  by  this  string — but,  if  you  do  not  take  it  up  with  you 
in  some  way,  I  shall  be  under  the  necessity  of  breaking 
your  head  with  this  shovel." 

"  What  de  matter  now,  massa  ? "  said  Jup,  evidently 
shamed  into  compliance ;  "  always  want  for  to  raise  fuss 
wid  old  nigger.  Was  only  funnin  anyhow.  Me  feered  de 
bug!  what  I  keer  for  de  bug?"  Here  he  took  cautiously 
hold  of  the  extreme  end  of  the  string,  and,  maintaining  the 
insect  as  far  from  his  person  as  circumstances  would  per- 
mit, prepared  to  ascend  the  tree. 

In  youth,  the  tulip  tree,  or  Liriodendron  tulipiferum, 
the  most  magnificent  of  American  foresters,  has  a  trunk 
peculiarly  smooth,  and  often  rises  to  a  great  height  without 
lateral  branches ;  but,  in  its  riper  age,  the  bark  becomes 
gnarled  and  uneven,  while  many  short  limbs  make  their 
appearance  on  the  stem.  Thus  the  difficulty  of  ascension, 
in  the  present  case,  lay  more  in  semblance  than  in  reality. 
Embracing  the  huge  cylinder,  as  closely  as  possible,  with 
his  arms  and  knees,  seizing  with  his  hands  some  projec- 
tions, and  resting  his  naked  toes  upon  others,  Jupiter,  after 
one  or  two  narrow  escapes  from  falling,  at  length  wriggled 
himself  into  the  first  great  fork,  and  seemed  to  consider 
the  whole  business  as  virtually  accomplished.  The  risk  of 
the  achievement  was,  in  fact,  now  over,  although  the  climber 
was  some  sixty  or  seventy  feet  from  the  ground. 

"  Which  way  mus'  go  now,  Massa  Will? "  he  asked. 

"  Keep  up  the  largest  branch — the  one  on  this  side,"  said 
Legrand.  The  negro  obeyed  him  promptly,  and  apparently 
with  but  little  trouble ;  ascending  higher  and  higher,  until 
no  glimpse  of  his  squat  figure  could  be  obtained  through 
the  dense  foliage  which  enveloped  it.  Presently  his  voice 
was  heard  in  a  sort  of  halloo. 

"  How  much  fudder  is  got  for  go  ?  " 

"  How  high  up  are  you  ?  "  asked  Legrand. 

"  Ebber  so  fur,"  replied  the  negro ;  '*  can  see  de  sky  fru 
de  top  ob  de  tree." 


American  Mystery  Stories 

"  Never  mind  the  sky,  but  attend  to  what  I  say.  Look 
down  the  trunk  and  count  the  Hmbs  below  you  on  this  side. 
How  many  Hmbs  have  you  passed  ?  " 

"  One,  two,  tree,  four,  fibe — I  done  pass  fibe  big  limb, 
massa,  'pon  dis  side." 

"  Then  go  one  limb  higher." 

In  a  few  minutes  the  voice  was  heard  again,  announcing 
that  the  seventh  limb  was  attained. 

''  Now,  Jup,"  cried  Legrand,  evidently  much  excited,  "  I 
want  you  to  work  your  way  out  upon  that  limb  as  far  as 
you  can.    If  you  see  anything  strange  let  me  know." 

By  this  time  what  little  doubt  I  might  have  entertained 
of  my  poor  friend's  insanity  was  put  finally  at  rest.  I  had 
no  alternative  but  to  conclude  him  stricken  with  lunacy, 
and  I  became  seriously  anxious  about  getting  him  home. 
While  I  was  pondering  upon  what  was  best  to  be  done, 
Jupiter's  voice  was  again  heard. 

"  Mos  feered  for  to  ventur  pon  dis  limb  berry  far — 'tis 
dead  limb  putty  much  all  de  way." 

"  Did  you  say  it  was  a  dead  limb,  Jupiter  ?  "  cried  Le- 
grand in  a  quavering  voice. 

"  Yes,  massa,  him  dead  as  de  door-nail — done  up  for 
sartin — done  departed  dis  here  life." 

"What  in  the  name  of  heaven  shall  I  do?"  asked  Le- 
grand, seemingly  in  the  greatest  distress. 

"  Do !  "  said  I,  glad  of  an  opportunity  to  interpose  a 
word,  "  why  come  home  and  go  to  bed.  Come  now ! — 
that's  a  fine  fellow.  It's  getting  late,  and,  besides,  you  re- 
member your  promise." 

"  Jupiter,"  cried  he,  without  heeding  me  in  the  least,  "  do 
y6u  hear  me  ?  " 

"  Yes,  Massa  Will,  hear  you  ebber  so  plain." 

"  Try  the  wood  well,  then,  with  your  knife,  and  see  if 
you  think  it  very  rotten." 

"  Him  rotten,  massa,  sure  nuff,"  replied  the  negro  in  a 
few  moments,  "  but  not  so  berry  rotten  as  mought  be. 
Mought  venture  out  leetle  way  pon  de  limb  by  myself,  dat's 


Edgar  Allan  Poe  '■"  , 

"  By  yourself! — what  do  you  mean?  " 

"  Why,  I  mean  de  bug.  'Tis  berry  hebby  bug.  Spose  I 
drop  him  down  fuss,  an  den  de  limb  won't  break  wid  just 
de  weight  of  one  nigger." 

"  You  infernal  scoundrel !  "  cried  Legrand,  apparently 
much  relieved,  "  what  do  you  mean  by  telling  me  such  non- 
sense as  that?  As  sure  as  you  drop  that  beetle  I'll  break 
your  neck.     Look  here,  Jupiter,  do  you  hear  me  ?  " 

**  Yes,  massa,  needn't  hollo  at  poor  nigger  dat  style." 

"  Well !  now  listen ! — if  you  will  venture  out  on  the  limb 
as  far  as  you  think  safe,  and  not  let  go  the  beetle,  I'll  make 
you  a  present  of  a  silver  dollar  as  soon  as  you  get  down." 

"  I'm  gwine,  Massa  Will — deed  I  is,"  replied  the  negro 
very  promptly — "  mos  out  to  the  eend  now." 

"Out  to  the  end!"  here  fairly  screamed  Legrand;  "do 
you  say  you  are  out  to  the  end  of  that  limb  ?  " 

"  Soon  be  to  de  eend,  massa — o-o-o-o-oh !  Lor-gol-a- 
marcy !  what  is  dis  here  pon  de  tree  ?  " 

"  Well!  "  cried  Legrand,  highly  delighted,  "  what  is  it?  " 

"  Why  'taint  noffin  but  a  skull — somebody  bin  lef  him 
head  up  de  tree,  and  de  crows  done  gobble  ebery  bit  ob  de 
meat  off." 

"  A  skull,  you  say ! — very  well, — how  is  it  fastened  to 
the  limb  ? — what  holds  it  on  ?  " 

"  Sure  nuff,  massa ;  mus  look.  Why  dis  berry  curious 
sarcumstance,  pon  my  word — dare's  a  great  big  nail  in  de 
skull,  what  fastens  ob  it  on  to  de  tree." 

"  Well  now,  Jupiter,  do  exactly  as  I  tell  you — do  you 

"  Yes,  massa." 

"  Pay  attention,  then — find  the  left  eye  of  the  skull." 

"  Hum !  hoo !  dat's  good !  why  dey  ain't  no  eye  lef  at  all." 

"  Curse  your  stupidity !  do  you  know  your  right  hand 
from  your  left  ?  " 

"  Yes,  I  knows  dat — knows  all  about  dat — 'tis  my  lef 
hand  what  I  chops  de  wood  wid." 

"To  be  sure!  you  are  left-handed;  and  your  left  eye  is 
on  the  same  side  as  your  left  hand.     Now,  I  suppose,  you 


American  Mystery  Stcries 

can  find  the  left  eye  of  the  skull,  or  the  place  where  the 
left  eye  has  been.    Have  you  found  it  ?  " 

Here  was  a  long  pause.    At  length  the  negro  asked: 

*'  Is  de  lef  eye  of  de  skull  pon  de  same  side  as  de  lef 
hand  of  de  skull  too  r — cause  de  skull  aint  got  not  a  bit  ob 
a  hand  at  all — nebber  mind !  I  got  de  lef  eye  now — ^here  de 
lef  eye !  what  mus  do  wid  it  ?  " 

"  Let  the  beetle  drop  through  it,  as  far  as  the  string  will 
reach — but  be  careful  and  not  let  go  your  hold  of  the 

"  All  dat  dene.  Massa  Wiil ;  mightA*  easy  ting  for  to  put 
de  bug  fru  de  hole — ^look  out  for  him  dare  below !  " 

During  this  colloquy  no  portion  of  Jupiter's  person  could 
be  seen;  but  the  beetle,  which  he  had  suffered  to  descend, 
was  now  \-isible  at  the  end  of  the  string,  and  glistened,  like 
a  globe  of  burnished  gold,  in  the  last  rays  of  the  setting 
sun,  some  of  which  still  faintly  illumined  the  eminence  upon 
which  we  stood.  The  scarabcrus  hung  quite  clear  of  any 
branches,  and,  if  allowed  to  fall,  wotild  have  fallen  at  our 
feet.  Legrand  immediately  took  the  sc}the,  and  cleared 
with  it  a  circular  space,  three  or  four  yards  in  diameter, 
just  beneath  the  insect,  and,  ha-ving  accomplished  this,  or- 
dered Jupiter  to  let  go  the  string  and  come  down  from  the 

Dri\-ing  a  peg.  with  great  nicet\;.  into  the  ground,  at  the 
precise  spot  where  the  beetle  fell,  my  friend  now  produced 
from  his  pocket  a  tape  measure.  Fastening  one  end  of  this 
at  that  point  of  the  trunk  of  the  tree  which  was  nearest  the 
peg,  he  unrolled  it  till  it  reached  the  peg  and  thence  fur- 
ther imrolled  it  in  the  direction  already  established  by  the 
two  points  of  the  tree  and  the  peg,  for  the  distance  of  fifty 
feet — Jupiter  clearing  away  the  brambles  with  the  scNthe. 
At  the  spot  thus  attained  a  second  peg  was  driven,  and 
about  this,  as  a  center,  a  rude  circle,  about  four  feet  in 
diameter,  described.  Taking  now  a  spade  himself,  and  giv- 
ing one  to  Jupiter  and  one  to  me,  Legrand  begged  us  to  set 
about  digging  as  quickly  as  possible. 

To  speak  the  trjih,   I  had  no  especial  relish  for  such 


Edzar  Allan  Poe 


amusement  at  any  time,  and,  at  that  particular  moment, 
would  willingly  have  declined  it ;  for  the  night  was  coming 
on,  and  I  felt  much  fatigued  with  the  exercise  already 
taken ;  but  I  saw  no  mode  of  escape,  and  was  fearful  of 
disturbing  my  poor  friend's  equanimity  by  a  refusal.  Could 
I  have  depended,  indeed,  upon  Jupiter's  aid,  I  would  have 
had  no  hesitation  in  attempting  to  get  the  lunatic  home  by 
force;  but  I  was  too  well  assured  of  the  old  negro's  dispo- 
sition, to  hope  that  he  would  assist  me,  under  any  circum- 
stances, in  a  personal  contest  with  his  master.  I  made  no 
doubt  that  the  latter  had  been  infected  with  some  of  the 
innumerable  Southern  superstitions  about  money  buried, 
and  that  his  fantasy  had  received  confirmation  by  the  find- 
ing of  the  scarabcu'js,  or,  perhaps,  by  Jupiter's  obstinacy  in 
maintaining  it  to  be  "  a  bug  of  real  gold."  A  mind  dis- 
posed to  lunacy  would  readily  be  led  away  by  such  sugges- 
tions— especially  if  chiming  in  with  favorite  preconceived 
ideas — and  then  I  called  to  mind  the  poor  fellow's  speech 
about  the  beetle's  being  "  the  index  of  his  fortune."  Upon 
the  whole,  I  was  sadly  vexed  and  puzzled,  but,  at  length,  I 
concluded  to  make  a  virtue  of  necessity — to  dig  with  a  good 
will,  and  thus  the  sooner  to  convince  the  visionary,  by 
ocular  demonstration,  of  the  fallacy  of  the  opinion  he  en- 

The  lanterns  having  been  lit,  we  all  fell  to  work  with  a 
zeal  worthy  a  more  rational  cause ;  and,  as  the  glare  fell 
upon  our  persons  and  implements,  I  could  not  help  think- 
ing how  picturesque  a  group  we  composed,  and  how  strange 
and  suspicious  our  labors  must  have  appeared  to  any  inter- 
loper who,  by  chance,  might  have  stumbled  upon  our 

We  dug  very  steadily  for  two  hours.  Little  was  said ; 
and  our  chief  embarrassment  lay  in  the  yelpings  of  the 
dog,  who  took  exceeding  interest  in  our  proceedings.  He, 
at  length,  became  so  obstreperous  that  we  grew  fearful  of 
his  giving  the  alarm  to  some  stragglers  in  the  vicinity, — 
or,  rather,  this  was  the  apprehension  of  Legrand ; — for 
myself,  I  should  have  rejoiced  at  any  interruption  which 


American  Mystery  Stories 

might  have  enabled  me  to  get  the  wanderer  home.  The 
noise  was,  at  length,  very  effectually  silenced  by  Jupiter, 
who,  getting  out  of  the  hole  with  a  dogged  air  of  de- 
liberation, tied  the  brute's  mouth  up  with  one  of  his 
suspenders,  and  then  returned,  with  a  grave  chuckle,  to 
his  task. 

When  the  time  mentioned  had  expired,  we  had  reached 
a  depth  of  five  feet,  and  yet  no  signs  of  any  treasure  became 
manifest.  A  general  pause  ensued,  and  I  began  to  hope 
that  the  farce  was  at  an  end.  Legrand,  however,  although 
evidently  much  disconcerted,  wiped  his  brow  thoughtfully 
and  recommenced.  We  had  excavated  the  entire  circle  of 
four  feet  diameter,  and  now  we  slightly  enlarged  the  limit, 
and  went  to  the  farther  depth  of  two  feet.  Still  nothing 
appeared.  The  gold-seeker,  whom  I  sincerely  pitied,  at 
length  clambered  from  the  pit,  with  the  bitterest  disappoint- 
ment imprinted  upon  every  feature,  and  proceeded,  slowly 
and  reluctantly,  to  put  on  his  coat,  which  he  had  thrown 
off  at  the  beginning  of  his  labor.  In  the  meantime  I  made 
no  remark.  Jupiter,  at  a  signal  from  his  master,  began 
to  gather  up  his  tools.  This  done,  and  the  dog  having 
been  unmuzzled,  we  turned  in  profound  silence  toward 

We  had  taken,  perhaps,  a  dozen  steps  in  this  direction, 
when,  with  a  loud  oath,  Legrand  strode  up  to  Jupiter,  and 
seized  him  by  the  collar.  The  astonished  negro  opened  his 
eyes  and  mouth  to  the  fullest  extent,  let  fall  the  spades,  and 
fell  upon  his  knees. 

"  You  scoundrel !  "  said  Legrand,  hissing  out  the  sylla- 
bles from  between  his  clenched  teeth — "  you  infernal  black 
villain! — speak,  I  tell  you! — answer  me  this  instant,  with- 
out prevarication ! — which — which  is  your  left  eye  ?  " 

"  Oh,  my  golly,  Massa  Will !  aint  dis  here  my  lef  eye 
for  sartain  ?  "  roared  the  terrified  Jupiter,  placing  his  hand 
upon  his  right  organ  of  vision,  and  holding  it  there  with  a 
desperate  pertinacity,  as  if  in  immediate  dread  of  his  mas- 
ter's attempt  at  a  gouge. 

"  I  thought  so ! — I   knew  it !  hurrah  I  "  vociferated  Le- 


Edgar  Allan  Poe 

grand,  letting  the  negro  go  and  executing  a  series  of  curvets 
and  caracols,  much  to  the  astonishment  of  his  valet,  who, 
arising  from  his  knees,  looked,  mutely,  from  his  master  to 
myself,  and  tlien  f'-^.m  myself  to  his  master. 

"  Come !  we  luust  go  back,"  said  the  latter,  "  the  game's 
not  up  yet ; "  and  he  again  led  the  way  to  the  tulip  tree. 

"  Jupiter,"  said  he,  when  we  reached  its  foot,  "  come 
here !  was  the  skull  nailed  to  the  limb  with  the  face  out- 
ward, or  with  the  face  to  the  limb  ?  " 

"  De  face  was  out,  massa,  so  dat  de  crows  could  get  at 
de  eyes  good,  widout  any  trouble." 

"  Well,  then,  was  it  this  eye  or  that  through  which  you 
dropped  the  beetle  ?  "  here  Legrand  touched  each  of  Jupi- 
ter's eyes. 

"  'Twas  dis  eye,  massa — de  lef  eye — jis  as  you  tell  me," 
and  here  it  was  his  right  eye  that  the  negro  indicated. 

"  That  will  do — we  must  try  it  again." 

Here  my  friend,  about  whose  madness  I  now  saw,  or 
fancied  that  I  saw,  certain  indications  of  method,  removed 
the  peg  which  marked  the  spot  where  the  beetle  fell,  to  a 
spot  about  three  inches  to  the  westward  of  its  former  posi- 
tion. Taking,  now,  the  tape  measure  from  the  nearest 
point  of  the  trunk  to  the  peg,  as  before,  and  continuing  the 
extension  in  a  straight  line  to  the  distance  of  fifty  feet,  a 
spot  was  indicated,  removed,  by  several  yards,  from  the 
point  at  which  we  had  been  digging. 

Around  the  new  position  a  circle,  somewhat  larger  than 
in  the  former  instance,  was  now  described,  and  we  again 
set  to  work  with  the  spade.  I  was  dreadfully  weary,  but, 
scarcely  understanding  what  had  occasioned  the  change  in 
my  thoughts,  I  felt  no  longer  any  great  aversion  from  the 
labor  imposed.  I  had  become  most  unaccountably  inter- 
ested— nay,  even  excited.  Perhaps  there  was  something, 
amid  all  the  extravagant  demeanor  of  Legrand — some  air 
of  forethought,  or  of  deliberation,  which  impressed  me.  I 
dug  eagerly,  and  now  and  then  caught  myself  actually  look- 
ing, with  something  that  very  much  resembled  expectation, 
for  the  fancied  treasure,  the  vision  of  which  had  demented 


American  Mystery  Stories 

my  unfortunate  companion.  At  a  period  when  such  vaga- 
ries of  thought  most  fully  possessed  me,  and  when  we  had 
been  at  work  perhaps  an  hour  and  a  half,  we  were  again 
interrupted  by  the  violent  bowlings  of  the  dog.  His  un- 
easiness, in  the  first  instance,  had  been,  evidently,  but  the 
result  of  playfulness  or  caprice,  but  he  now  assumed  a  bit- 
ter and  serious  tone.  Upon  Jupiter's  again  attempting  to 
muzzle  him,  he  made  furious  resistance,  and,  leaping  into 
the  hole,  tore  up  the  mold  frantically  with  his  claws.  In 
a  few  seconds  he  had  uncovered  a  mass  of  human  bones, 
forming  two  complete  skeletons,  intermingled  with  several 
buttons  of  metal,  and  what  appeared  to  be  the  dust  of  de- 
cayed woolen.  One  or  two  strokes  of  a  spade  upturned  the 
blade  of  a  large  Spanish  knife,  and,  as  we  dug  farther, 
three  or  four  loose  pieces  of  gold  and  silver  coin  came  to 

At  sight  of  these  the  joy  of  Jupiter  could  scarcely  be 
restrained,  but  the  countenance  of  his  master  wore  an  air 
of  extreme  disappointment.  He  urged  us,  however,  to  con- 
tinue our  exertions,  and  the  words  were  hardly  uttered 
when  I  stumbled  and  fell  forward,  having  caught  the  toe 
of  my  boot  in  a  large  ring  of  iron  that  lay  half  buried  in 
the  loose  earth. 

We  now  worked  in  earnest,  and  never  did  I  pass  ten 
minutes  of  more  intense  excitement.  During  this  interval 
we  had  fairly  unearthed  an  oblong  chest  of  wood,  which, 
from  its  perfect  preservation  and  wonderful  hardness,  had 
plainly  been  subjected  to  some  mineralizing  process — per- 
haps that  of  the  bichloride  of  mercury.  This  box  was  three 
feet  and  a  half  long,  three  feet  broad,  and  two  and  a  half 
feet  deep.  It  was  firmly  secured  by  bands  of  wrought  iron, 
riveted,  and  forming  a  kind  of  open  trelliswork  over  the 
whole.  On  each  side  of  the  chest,  near  the  top,  were  three 
rings  of  iron — six  in  all — by  means  of  which  a  firm  hold 
could  be  obtained  by  six  persons.  Our  utmost  united  en- 
deavors served  only  to  disturb  the  coffer  very  slightly  in  its 
bed.  We  at  once  saw  the  impossibility  of  removing  so 
great  a  weight.    Luckily,  the  sole  fastenings  of  the  lid  coh- 


Edgar  Allan  Poe 

sisted  of  two  sliding  bolts.  These  we  drew  back — ^trem- 
bling and  panting  with  anxiety.  In  an  instant,  a  treasure 
of  incalculable  value  lay  gleaming  before  us.  As  the  rays 
of  the  lanterns  fell  within  the  pit,  there  flashed  upward  a 
glow  and  a  glare,  from  a  confused  heap  of  gold  and  of 
jewels,  that  absolutely  dazzled  our  eyes. 

I  shall  not  pretend  to  describe  the  feelings  with  which  I 
gazed.  Amazement  was,  of  course,  predominant.  Legrand 
appeared  exhausted  with  excitement,  and  spoke  very  few 
words.  Jupiter's  countenance  wore,  for  some  minutes,  as 
deadly  a  pallor  as  it  is  possible,  in  the  nature  of  things,  for 
any  negro's  visage  to  assume.  He  seemed  stupefied — 
thunderstricken.  Presently  he  fell  upon  his  knees  in  the 
pit,  and  burying  his  naked  arms  up  to  the  elbows  in  gold, 
let  them  there  remain,  as  if  enjoying  the  luxury  of  a  bath. 
At  length,  with  a  deep  sigh,  he  exclaimed,  as  if  in  a 
soliloquy : 

"  And  dis  all  cum  ob  de  goole-bug !  de  putty  goole-bug ! 
de  poor  little  goole-bug,  what  I  boosed  in  that  sabage  kind 
ob  style!  Aint  you  shamed  ob  yourself,  nigger? — answer 
me  dat ! " 

It  became  necessary,  at  last,  that  I  should  arouse  both 
master  and  valet  to  the  expediency  of  removing  the  treas- 
ure. It  was  growing  late,  and  it  behooved  us  to  make 
exertion,  that  we  might  get  everything  housed  before  day- 
light. It  was  difficult  to  say  what  should  be  done,  and 
much  time  was  spent  in  deliberation — so  confused  were  the 
ideas  of  all.  We,  finally,  lightened  the  box  by  removing 
two  thirds  of  its  contents,  when  we  were  enabled,  with  some 
trouble,  to  raise  it  from  the  hole.  The  articles  taken  out 
were  deposited  among  the  brambles,  and  the  dog  left  to 
guard  them,  with  strict  orders  from  Jupiter  neither,  upon 
any  pretense,  to  stir  from  the  spot,  nor  to  open  his  mouth 
until  our  return.  We  then  hurriedly  made  for  home  with 
the  chest;  reaching  the  hut  in  safety,  but  after  excessive 
toil,  at  one  o'clock  in  the  morning.  Worn  out  as  we  were, 
it  was  not  in  human  nature  to  do  more  immediately.  We 
rested  until  two,  and  had  supper ;  starting  for  the  hills  im- 


American  Mystery  Stories 

mediately  afterwards,  armed  with  tliree  stout  £acks,  which, 
by  good  luck,  were  upon  the  premises.  A  Httle  before  four 
we  arrived  at  the  pit,  divided  the  remainder  of  the  booty, 
as  equally  as  might  be,  among  us,  and,  leaving  the  holes 
unfilled,  again  set  out  for  the  hut,  at  which,  for  the  second 
time,  we  deposited  our  golden  burdens,  just  as  the  first  faint 
streaks  of  the  dawn  gleamed  from  over  the  treetops  in  the 

We  were  now  thoroughly  broken  down ;  but  the  intense 
excitement  of  the  time  denied  us  repose.  x\fter  an  un- 
quiet slumber  of  some  three  or  four  hours'  duration,  we 
arose,  as  if  by  preconcert,  to  make  examination  of  our 

The  chest  had  been  full  to  the  brim,  and  we  spent  the 
whole  day,  and  the  greater  part  of  the  next  night,  in  a 
scrutiny  of  its  contents.  There  had  been  nothing  like  order 
or  arrangement.  Everything  had  been  heaped  in  promiscu- 
ously. Having  assorted  all  with  care,  we  found  ourselves 
possessed  of  even  vaster  wealth  than  we  had  at  first  sup- 
posed. In  coin  there  was  rather  more  than  four  hundred 
and  fifty  thousand  dollars — estimating  the  value  of  the 
pieces,  as  accurately  as  we  could,  by  the  tables  of  the 
period.  There  was  not  a  particle  of  silver.  All  was  gold 
of  antique  date  and  of  great  variety — French,  Spanish,  and 
German  money,  with  a  few  English  guineas,  and  some 
counters,  of  which  we  had  never  seen  specimens  before. 
There  were  several  very  large  and  heavy  coins,  so  worn 
that  we  could  make  nothing  of  their  inscriptions.  There 
was  no  American  money.  The  value  of  the  jewels  we 
found  more  difficulty  in  estimating.  There  were  diamonds 
— some  of  them  exceedingly  large  and  fine — a  hundred  and 
ten  in  all,  and  not  one  of  them  small ;  eighteen  rubies  of 
remarkable  brilliancy ; — three  hundred  and  ten  emeralds,  all 
very  beautiful ;  and  twenty-one  sapphires,  with  an  opal. 
These  stones  had  all  been  broken  from  their  settings  and 
thrown  loose  in  the  chest.  The  settings  themselves,  which 
we  picked  out  from  among  the  other  gold,  appeared  to  have 
been  beaten  up  with  hammers,  as  if  to  prevent  identifica- 


Edgar  Allan  Poe 

tion.  Besides  all  this,  there  was  a  vast  quantity  of  solid 
gold  ornaments ;  nearly  two  hundred  massive  finger  and  ear- 
rings ;  rich  chains — thirty  of  these,  if  I  remember ;  eighty- 
three  very  large  and  heavy  crucifixes ;  five  gold  censers  of 
great  value ;  a  prodigious  golden  punch  bowl,  ornamented 
with  richly  chased  vine  leaves  and  Bacchanalian  figures ; 
with  two  sword  handles  exquisitely  embossed,  and  many 
other  smaller  articles  which  I  cannot  recollect.  The  weight 
of  these  valuables  exceeded  three  hundred  and  fifty  pounds 
avoirdupois ;  and  in  this  estimate  I  have  not  included  one 
hundred  and  ninety-seven  superb  gold  watches ;  three  of  the 
number  being  worth  each  five  hundred  dollars,  if  one. 
Many  of  them  were  very  old,  and  as  timekeepers  valueless ; 
the  works  having  suffered,  more  or  less,  from  corrosion — 
but  all  were  richly  jeweled  and  in  cases  of  great  worth. 
We  estimated  the  entire  contents  of  the  chest,  that  night, 
at  a  million  and  a  half  of  dollars ;  and  upon  the  subsequent 
disposal  of  the  trinkets  and  jewels  (a  few  being  retained 
for  our  own  use),  it  was  found  that  we  had  greatly  under- 
valued the  treasure. 

When,  at  length,  we  had  concluded  our  examination,  and 
the  intense  excitement  of  the  time  had,  in  some  measure, 
subsided,  Legrand,  who  saw  that  I  was  dying  with  impa- 
tience for  a  solution  of  this  most  extraordinary  riddle,  en- 
tered into  a  full  detail  of  all  the  circumstances  connected 
with  it. 

"  You  remember,"  said  he,  "  the  night  when  I  handed 
you  the  rough  sketch  I  had  made  of  the  scarabccus.  You 
recollect,  also,  that  I  became  quite  vexed  at  you  for  insist- 
ing that  my  drawing  resembled  a  death's  head.  When  you 
first  made  this  assertion  I  thought  you  were  jesting;  but 
afterwards  I  called  to  mind  the  peculiar  spots  on  the  back 
of  the  insect,  and  admitted  to  myself  that  your  remark  had 
some  little  foundation  in  fact.  Still,  the  sneer  at  my  graphic 
powers  irritated  me — for  I  am  considered  a  good  artist— 
and,  therefore,  when  you  handed  me  the  scrap  of  parch- 
ment, I  was  about  to  crumple  it  up  and  throw  it  angrily 
into  the  fire." 


American  Mystery  Stories 

"  The  scrap  of  paper,  you  mean,"  said  I. 

"  No ;  it  had  much  of  the  appearance  of  paper,  and  a? 
first  I  supposed  it  to  be  such,  but  when  I  came  to  draw  upon 
it,  I  discovered  it  at  once  to  be  a  piece  of  very  thin  parch- 
ment.    It  was  quite  dirty,  you  remember.    Well,  as  I  was 
in  the  very  act  of  crumipling  it  up,  my  glance  fell  upon 
the  sketch  at  which  you  had  been  looking,  and  you  may 
imagine  my  astonishment  when  I   perceived,   in   fact,  the 
figure  of  a  death's  head  just  where,  it  seemed  to  me,  I  had 
made  the  drawing  of  the  beetle.     For  a  moment  I  was  too 
much   amazed  to  think  with  accuracy.     I  knew  that  my 
design   was   very   different   in  detail   from   this — although 
there  was  a  certain  similarity  in  general  outline.    Presently 
I  took  a  candle,  and  seating  myself  at  the  other  end  of  the 
room,  proceeded  to  scrutinize  the  parchment  more  closely. 
Upon  turning  it  over,  I  saw  my  own  sketch  upon  the  re- 
verse, just  as  I  had  made  it.    My  first  idea,  now,  was  mere 
surprise  at  the  really  remarkable  similarity  of  outline — at 
the  singular  coincidence  involved  in  the  fact  that,  unknown 
to  me,  there  should  have  been  a  skull  upon  the  other  side 
of  the  parchment,  immediately  beneath  my  figure  of  the 
scarabmis,  and  that  this  skull,  not  only  in  outline,  but  in 
size,  should  so  closely  resemble  my  drawing.     I   say  the 
singularity  of  this  coincidence  absolutely  stupefied  me  for 
a  time.    This  is  the  usual  effect  of  such  coincidences.    The 
mind   struggles   to   establish   a   connection — a   sequence   of 
cause  and  effect — and,  being  unable  to   do  so,   suffers  a 
species  of  temporary  paralysis.    But,  when  I  recovered  from 
this  stupor,  there  dawned  upon  me  gradually  a  conviction 
which  startled  me  even  far  more  than  the  coincidence.     I 
began  distinctly,  positively,  to  remember  that  there  had  been 
no  drawing  upon  the  parchment,  when  I  made  my  sketch 
of  the  scarabcous.     I  became  perfectly  certain  of  this;  for 
I  recollected  turning  up  first  one  side  and  then  the  other, 
in  search  of  the  cleanest  spot.     Had  the  skull  been  then 
there,  of  course  I  could  not  have  failed  to  notice  it.     Here 
was  indeed  a  mystery  which  I  felt  it  impossible  to  explain ; 
but,  even  at  that  early  moment,  there  seemed  to  glimmer. 


Ed^ar  Allan  Poe 


faintly,  within  the  most  remote  and  secret  chambers  of  m> 
intellect,  a  glow-vvormlike  conception  of  that  truth  which 
last  night's  adventure  brought  to  so  magnificent  a  demon- 
stration. I  arose  at  once,  and  putting  the  parchment  se- 
curely away,  dismissed  all  further  reflection  until  I  should 
be  alone. 

"  When  you  had  gone,  and  when  Jupiter  was  fast  asleep, 
I  betook  myself  to  a  more  methodical  investigation  of  the 
affair.  In  the  first  place  I  considered  the  manner  in  which 
the  parchment  had  come  into  my  possession.  The  spot 
where  we  discovered  the  scarabccus  was  on  the  coast  of 
the  mainland,  about  a  mile  eastward  of  the  island,  and  but 
a  short  distance  above  high-water  mark.  Upon  my  taking 
hold  of  it,  it  gave  me  a  sharp  bite,  which  caused  me  to 
let  it  drop.  Jupiter,  with  his  accustomed  caution,  before 
seizing  the  insect,  which  had  flown  toward  him,  looked 
about  him  for  a  leaf,  or  something  of  that  nature,  by  which 
to  take  hold  of  it.  It  was  at  this  moment  that  his  eyes, 
and  mine  also,  fell  upon  the  scrap  of  parchment,  which  I 
then  supposed  to  be  paper.  It  was  lying  half  buried  in  the 
sand,  a  corner  sticking  up.  Near  the  spot  where  we  found 
it,  I  observed  the  remnants  of  the  hull  of  what  appeared  to 
have  been  a  ship's  longboat.  The  wreck  seemed  to  have 
been  there  for  a  very  great  while,  for  the  resemblance  to 
boat  timbers  could  scarcely  be  traced. 

"  Well,  Jupiter  picked  up  the  parchment,  wrapped  the 
beetle  in  it,  and  gave  it  to  me.    Soon  afterwards  we  turned 

to  go  home,   and  on  the  way  met  Lieutenant  G .     I 

showed  him  the  insect,  and  he  begged  me  to  let  him  take 
it  to  the  fort.  Upon  my  consenting,  he  thrust  it  forthwith 
into  his  waistcoat  pocket,  without  the  parchment  in  which 
it  had  been  wrapped,  and  which  I  had  continued  to  hold  in 
my  hand  during  his  inspection.  Perhaps  he  dreaded  my 
changing  my  mind,  and  thought  it  best  to  make  sure  of  the 
prize  at  once — you  know  how  enthusiastic  he  is  on  all  sub- 
jects connected  with  Natural  History.  At  the  same  time, 
without  being  conscious  of  it,  I  must  have  deposited  the 
parchment  in  my  own  pocket. 


American  Mystery  Stories 

"  You  remember  that  when  I  went  to  the  table,  for  the 
purpose  of  making  a  sketch  of  the  beetle,  I  found  no  paper 
where  it  was  usually  kept.  I  looked  in  the  drawer,  and 
found  none  there.  I  searched  my  pockets,  hoping  to  find 
an  old  letter,  when  my  hand  fell  upon  the  parchment.  I 
thus  detail  the  precise  mode  in  which  it  came  into  my  pos- 
session, for  the  circumstances  impressed  me  with  pecuHar 

"  No  doubt  you  will  think  me  fanciful — but  I  had  already 
established  a  kind  of  connection.  I  had  put  together  two 
links  of  a  great  chain.  There  was  a  boat  lying  upon  a  sea- 
coast,  and  not  far  from  the  boat  was  a  parchment — not  a 
paper — with  a  skull  depicted  upon  it.  You  will,  of  course, 
ask  '  where  is  the  connection  ? '  I  reply  that  the  skull, 
or  death's  head,  is  the  well-known  emblem  of  the  pirate. 
The  flag  of  the  death's  head  is  hoisted  in  all  engage- 

"  I  have  said  that  the  scrap  was  parchment,  and  not 
paper.  Parchment  is  durable — almost  imperishable.  Mat- 
ters of  little  moment  are  rarely  consigned  to  parchment; 
since,  for  the  mere  ordinary  purposes  of  drawing  or  writ- 
ing, it  is  not  nearly  so  well  adapted  as  paper.  This  reflec- 
tion suggested  some  meaning — some  relevancy — in  the 
death's  head.  I  did  not  fail  to  observe,  also,  the  form  of 
the  parchment.  Although  one  of  its  corners  had  been,  by 
some  accident,  destroyed,  it  could  be  seen  that  the  original 
form  was  oblong.  It  was  just  such  a  slip,  indeed,  as  might 
have  been  chosen  for  a  memorandum — for  a  record  of 
something  to  be  long  remembered,  and  carefully  pre- 

"  But,"  I  interposed,  "  you  say  that  the  skull  was  not 
upon  the  parchment  when  you  made  the  drawing  of  the 
beetle.  How  then  do  you  trace  any  connection  between 
the  boat  and  the  skull — since  this  latter,  according  to  your 
own  admission,  must  have  been  designed  (God  only  knows 
how  or  by  whom)  at  some  period  subsequent  to  your  sketch- 
ing the  scarahcciis?  " 

"  Ah,  hereupon  turns  the  whole  mystery ;  although  the 


Ed^ar  Allan  Poe 


secret,  at  this  point,  I  had  comparatively  Httle  difficulty  in 
solving.  My  steps  were  sure,  and  could  afford  but  a  single 
result.  I  reasoned,  for  example,  thus :  When  I  drew  the 
scarabcrus,  there  was  no  skull  apparent  upon  the  parch- 
ment. When  I  had  completed  the  drawing  I  gave  it  to  you, 
and  observed  you  narrowly  until  you  returned  it.  Yon, 
therefore,  did  not  design  the  skull,  and  no  one  else  was 
present  to  do  it.  Then  it  was  not  done  by  human  agency. 
And  nevertheless  it  was  done. 

"  At  this  stage  of  my  reflections  I  endeavored  to  remem- 
ber, and  did  remember,  with  entire  distinctness,  every  in- 
cident which  occurred  about  the  period  in  question.  The 
weather  was  chilly  (oh,  rare  and  happy  accident!),  and  a 
fire  was  blazing  upon  the  hearth,  I  was  heated  with  exer- 
cise and  sat  near  the  table.  You,  however,  had  drawn  a 
chair  close  to  the  chimney.  Just  as  I  placed  the  parchment 
in  your  hand,  and  as  you  were  in  the  act  of  inspecting  it. 
Wolf,  the  Newfoundland,  entered,  and  leaped  upon  your 
shoulders.  With  your  left  hand  you  caressed  him  and  kept 
him  off,  while  your  right,  holding  the  parchment,  was  per- 
mitted to  fall  listlessly  between  your  knees,  and  in  close 
proximity  to  the  fire.  At  one  moment  I  thought  the  blaze 
had  caught  it,  and  was  about  to  caution  you,  but,  before  I 
could  speak,  you  had  withdrawn  it,  and  were  engaged  in 
its  examination.  When  I  considered  all  these  particulars, 
I  doubted  not  for  a  moment  that  heat  had  been  the  agent 
in  bringing  to  light,  upon  the  parchment,  the  skull  which 
I  saw  designed  upon  it.  You  are  well  aware  that  chemical 
preparations  exist,  and  have  existed  time  out  of  mind,  by 
means  of  which  it  is  possible  to  write  upon  either  paper  or 
vellum,  so  that  the  characters  shall  become  visible  only 
when  subjected  to  the  action  of  fire.  Zaffre,  digested  in 
aqua  regia,  and  diluted  with  four  times  its  weight  of  water, 
is  sometimes  employed ;  a  green  tint  results.  The  regulus 
of  cobalt,  dissolved  in  spirit  of  niter,  gives  a  red.  These 
colors  disappear  at  longer  or  shorter  intervals  after  the  ma- 
terial written  upon  cools,  but  again  become  apparent  upon 
the  reapplication  of  heat. 


American  Mystery  Stories 

"  I  now  scrutinized  the  death's  head  with  care.  Its  outer 
edges — the  edges  of  the  drawing  nearest  the  edge  of  the 
vellum — were  far  more  distinct  than  the  others.  It  was 
clear  that  the  action  of  the  caloric  had  been  imperfect  or 
unequal.  I  immediately  kindled  a  fire,  and  subjected  every 
portion  of  the  parchment  to  a  glowing  heat.  At  first,  the 
only  effect  was  the  strengthening  of  the  faint  lines  in  the 
skull ;  but,  upon  persevering  in  the  experiment,  there  be- 
came visible,  at  the  corner  of  the  slip,  diagonally  opposite 
to  the  spot  in  which  the  death's  head  was  delineated,  the 
figure  of  what  I  at  first  supposed  to  be  a  goat.  A  closer 
scrutiny,  however,  satisfied  me  that  it  was  intended  for  a 

"  Ha !  ha !  "  said  I,  "  to  be  sure  I  have  no  right  to  laugh 
at  you — a  million  and  a  half  of  money  is  too  serious  a 
matter  for  mirth — but  you  are  not  about  to  establish  a 
third  link  in  your  chain — you  will  not  find  any  especial 
connection  between  your  pirates  and  a  goat — pirates,  you 
know,  have  nothing  to  do  with  goats ;  they  appertain  to  the 
farming  interest." 

"  But  I  have  just  said  that  the  figure  was  not  that  of  a 

"  Well,  a  kid  then — pretty  much  the  same  thing." 

"  Pretty  much,  but  not  altogether,"  said  Legrand.  "  You 
may  have  heard  of  one  Captain  Kidd.  I  at  once  looked 
upon  the  figure  of  the  animal  as  a  kind  of  punning  or 
hieroglyphical  signature.  I  say  signature ;  because  its  posi- 
tion upon  the  vellum  suggested  this  idea.  The  death's  head 
at  the  corner  diagonally  opposite,  had,  in  the  same  manner, 
the  air  of  a  stamp,  or  seal.  But  I  was  sorely  put  out  by 
the  absence  of  all  else — of  the  body  to  my  imagined  instru- 
ment— of  the  text  for  my  context." 

"  I  presume  you  expected  to  find  a  letter  between  the 
stamp  and  the  signature." 

"  Something  of  that  kind.  The  fact  is,  I  felt  irresistibly 
impressed  with  a  presentiment  of  some  vast  good  fortune 
impending.  I  can  scarcely  say  why.  Perhaps,  after  all,  it 
was  rather  a  desire  than  an  actual  belief ; — but  do  you  know 


Edgar  Allan  Poe 

that  Jupiter's  silly  words,  about  the  bug  being  of  solid  gold, 
had  a  remarkable  effect  upon  my  fancy?  And  then  the 
series  of  accidents  and  coincidents — these  were  so  very  ex- 
traordinary. Do  you  observe  how  mere  an  accident  it  was 
that  these  events  should  have  occurred  upon  the  sole  day 
of  all  the  year  in  which  it  has  been,  or  may  be  sufficiently 
cool  for  fire,  and  that  without  the  fire,  or  without  the  in- 
tervention of  the  dog  at  the  precise  moment  in  which 
he  appeared,  I  should  never  have  become  aware  of  the 
death's  head,  and  so  never  the  possessor  of  the  treas- 

"  But  proceed — I  am  all  impatience." 

"  Well ;  you  have  heard,  of  course,  the  many  stories 
current — the  thousand  vague  rumors  afloat  about  money 
buried,  somewhere  upon  the  Atlantic  coast,  by  Kidd  and 
his  associates.  These  rumors  must  have  had  some  founda- 
tion in  fact.  And  that  the  rumors  have  existed  so  long  and 
so  continuous,  could  have  resulted,  it  appeared  to  me,  only 
from  the  circumstance  of  the  buried  treasures  still  remain- 
ing entombed.  Had  Kidd  concealed  his  plunder  for  a  time, 
and  afterwards  reclaimed  it,  the  rumors  would  scarcely 
have  reached  us  in  their  present  unvarying  form.  You  will 
observe  that  the  stories  told  are  all  about  money-seekers,  not 
about  money-finders.  Had  the  pirate  recovered  his  money, 
there  the  affair  would  have  dropped.  It  seemed  to  me  that 
some  accident — say  the  loss  of  a  memorandum  indicating 
its  locality — had  deprived  him  of  the  means  of  recovering 
it,  and  that  this  accident  had  become  known  to  his  follow- 
ers, who  otherwise  might  never  have  heard  that  the  treas- 
ure had  been  concealed  at  all,  and  who,  busying  themselves 
in  vain,  because  unguided,  attempts  to  regain  it,  had 
given  first  birth,  and  then  universal  currency,  to  the  re- 
ports which  are  now  so  common.  Have  you  ever  heard 
of  any  important  treasure  being  unearthed  along  the 
coast  ?  " 

"  Never." 

"  But  that  Kidd's  accumulations  were  immense,  is  well 
known.    I  took  it  for  granted,  therefore,  that  the  earth  still 


American  Mystery  Stories 

held  them ;  and  you  will  scarcely  be  surprised  when  I  tell 
you  that  I  felt  a  hope,  nearly  amounting  to  certainty,  that 
the  parchment  so  strangely  found  involved  a  lost  record  of 
the  place  of  deposit." 

"  But  how  did  you  proceed  ?  " 

"  I  held  the  vellum  again  to  the  fire,  after  increasing  the 
heat,  but  nothing  appeared.  I  now  thought  it  possible  that 
the  coating  of  dirt  might  have  something  to  do  with  the 
failure :  so  I  carefully  rinsed  the  parchment  by  pouring 
warm  water  over  it,  and,  having  done  this,  I  placed  it  in 
a  tin  pan,  with  the  skull  downward,  and  put  the  pan  upon 
a  furnace  of  lighted  charcoal.  In  a  few  minutes,  the  pan 
having  become  thoroughly  heated,  I  removed  the  slip,  and, 
to  my  inexpressible  joy,  found  it  spotted,  in  several  places, 
with  what  appeared  to  be  figures  arranged  in  lines.  Again 
I  placed  it  in  the  pan,  and  suffered  it  to  remain  another 
minute.  Upon  taking  it  off,  the  whole  was  just  as  you  see 
it  now." 

Here  Legrand,  having  reheated  the  parchment,  submitted 
it  to  my  inspection.  The  following  characters  were  rudely 
traced,  in  a  red  tint,  between  the  death's  head  and  the 

t;46(;88*96*?;8)*t(;485);5*t2:n(;4956*2(5*— 4)81l8*;4o69285) 


"  But,"  said  I,  returning  him  the  slip,  "  I  am  as  much  in 
the  dark  as  ever.  Were  all  the  jewels  of  Golconda  await- 
ing me  upon  my  solution  of  this  enigma,  I  am  quite  sure 
that  I  should  be  unable  to  earn  them." 

"  And  yet,"  said  Legrand,  "  the  solution  is  by  no  means 
so  difficult  as  you  might  be  led  to  imagine  from  the  first 
hasty  inspection  of  the  characters.  These  characters,  as 
anyone  might  readily  guess,  form  a  cipher — that  is  to  say, 
they  convey  a  meaning;  but  then  from  what  is  known  of 
Kidd,  I  could  not  suppose  him  capable  of  constructing  any 


Edgar  Allan  Poe 

of  the  more  abstruse  cryptographs.  I  made  up  my  mind, 
at  once,  that  this  was  of  a  simple  species — such,  however, 
as  would  appear,  to  the  crude  intellect  of  the  sailor,  abso- 
lutely insoluble  without  the  key." 

"And  you  really  solved  it?" 

"  Readily ;  I  have  solved  others  of  an  abstruseness  ten 
thousand  times  greater.  Circumstances,  and  a  certain  bias 
of  mind,  have  led  me  to  take  interest  in  such  riddles,  and 
it  may  well  be  doubted  whether  human  ingenuity  can  con- 
struct an  enigma  of  the  kind  which  human  ingenuity  may 
not,  by  proper  application,  resolve.  In  fact,  having  once 
established  connected  and  legible  characters,  I  scarcely  gave 
a  thought  to  the  mere  difficulty  of  developing  their  import. 

"  In  the  present  case — indeed  in  all  cases  of  secret  writ- 
ing— the  first  question  regards  the  language  of  the  cipher ; 
for  the  principles  of  solution,  so  far,  especially,  as  the  more 
simple  ciphers  are  concerned,  depend  upon,  and  are  varied 
by,  the  genius  of  the  particular  idiom.  In  general,  there 
is  no  alternative  but  experiment  (directed  by  probabilities) 
of  every  tongue  known  to  him  who  attempts  the  solution, 
until  the  true  one  be  attained.  But,  with  the  cipher  now 
before  us,  all  difficulty  was  removed  by  the  signature.  The 
pun  upon  the  word  '  Kidd '  is  appreciable  in  no  other  lan- 
guage than  the  English,  But  for  this  consideration  I  should 
have  begun  my  attempts  with  the  Spanish  and  French,  as 
the  tongues  in  which  a  secret  of  this  kind  would  most 
naturally  have  been  written  by  a  pirate  of  the  Span- 
ish main.  As  it  was,  I  assumed  the  cryptograph  to  be 

"You  observe  there  are  no  divisions  between  the  words. 
Had  there  been  divisions  the  task  would  have  been  com- 
paratively easy.  In  such  cases  I  should  have  commenced 
with  a  collation  and  analysis  of  the  shorter  words,  and,  had 
a  word  of  a  single  letter  occurred,  as  is  most  likely,  (a  or 
/,  for  example,)  I  should  have  considered  the  solution  as 
assured.  But,  there  being  no  division,  my  first  step  was  to 
ascertain  the  predominant  letters,  as  well  as  the  least  fre- 
quent.    Counting  all,  I  constructed  a  table  thus : 


American  Mystery  Stories 

Of  the  character  8 

there  are 










































"  Now,  in  EngHsh,  the  letter  which  most  frequently 
occurs  is  e.  Afterwards,  the  succession  runs  thus :  a  0  i  d 
hnrstiiycfglmwhkpqxz.  E  predominates  so 
remarkably,  that  an  individual  sentence  of  any  length  is 
rarely  seen,  in  which  it  is  not  the  prevailing  character. 

"  Here,  then,  we  have,  in  the  very  beginning,  the  ground- 
work for  something  more  than  a  mere  guess.  The  general 
use  which  may  be  made  of  the  table  is  obvious — but,  in 
this  particular  cipher,  we  shall  only  very  partially  require 
its  aid.  As  our  predominant  character  is  8,  we  will  com- 
mence by  assuming  it  as  the  e  of  the  natural  alphabet.  To 
verify  the  supposition,  let  us  observe  if  the  8  be  seen  often 
in  couples — for  e  is  doubled  with  great  frequency  in  Eng- 
lish— in  such  words,  for  example,  as  '  meet,'  '  fleet,'  '  speed,' 
*  seen,'  '  been,'  '  agree,'  etc.  In  the  present  instance  we  see 
it  doubled  no  less  than  five  times,  although  the  cryptograph 
is  brief. 

"  Let  us  assume  8,  then,  as  e.  Now,  of  all  words  in  the 
language,  '  the  '  is  most  usual ;  let  us  see,  therefore,  whether 
there  are  not  repetitions  of  any  three  characters,  in  the 
same  order  of  collocation,  the  last  of  them  being  8.  If  we 
discover  repetitions  of  such  letters,  so  arranged,  they  will 
most  probably  represent  the  word  '  the.'    Upon  inspection, 


Edmr  Allan  Poe 


we  find  no  less  than  seven  such  arrangements,  the  charac- 
ters being  148.  We  may,  therefore,  assume  that  ;  repre- 
sents t,  4  represents  h,  and  8  represents  e — the  last  being 
now  well  confirmed.    Thus  a  great  step  has  been  taken. 

"  But,  having  established  a  single  word,  we  are  enabled 
to  establish  a  vastly  important  point ;  that  is  to  say,  several 
commencements  and  terminations  of  other  words.  Let  us 
refer,  for  example,  to  the  last  instance  but  one,  in  which 
the  combination  148  occurs — not  far  from  the  end  of  the 
cipher.  We  know  that  the  ;  immediately  ensuing  is  the 
commencement  of  a  word,  and,  of  the  six  characters  suc- 
ceeding this  '  the,'  we  are  cognizant  of  no  less  than  five. 
Let  us  set  these  characters  down,  thus,  by  the  letters  we 
know  them  to  represent,  leaving  a  space  for  the  unknown — 

t  eeth. 

"  Here  we  are  enabled,  at  once,  to  discard  the  '  th,'  as 
forming  no  portion  of  the  word  commencing  with  the  first 
/ ;  since,  by  experiment  of  the  entire  alphabet  for  a  letter 
adapted  to  the  vacancy,  we  perceive  that  no  word  can  be 
formed  of  which  this  th  can  be  a  part.  We  are  thus  nar- 
rowed into 

t  ee, 

and,  going  through  the  alphabet,  if  necessary,  as  before, 
we  arrive  at  the  word  '  tree,'  as  the  sole  possible  reading. 
We  thus  gain  another  letter,  r,  represented  by  (,  with  the 
words  '  the  tree  '  in  juxtaposition. 

*'  Looking  beyond  these  words,  for  a  short  distance,  we 
again  see  the  combination  ;48,  and  employ  it  by  way  of 
termination  to  what  immediately  precedes.  We  have  thus 
this  arrangement : 

the  tree   ;4(J?34  the, 

or,  substituting  the  natural  letters,  where  known,  it  reads 
thus : 

the  tree  thr  J  ?3h  the. 


American  Mystery  Stories 

"  Now,  if,  in  place  of  the  unknown  characters,  we  leave 
blank  spaces,  or  substitute  dots,  we  read  thus : 

the  tree  thr...h  the, 

when  the  word  '  through '  makes  itself  evident  at  once. 
But  this  discovery  gives  us  three  new  letters,  o,  u,  and  g, 
represented  by  J,  ?,  and  3. 

"  Looking  now,  narrowly,  through  the  cipher  for  com- 
binations of  known  characters,  we  find,  not  very  far  from 
the  beginning,  this  arrangement, 

83(88,  or  agree, 

which  plainly,  is  the  conclusion  of  the  word  '  degree,'  and 
gives  us  another  letter,  d,  represented  by  f. 

"  Four  letters  beyond  the  word  '  degree,'  we  perceive  the 


"  Translating  the  known  characters,  and  representing  the 
unknown  by  dots,  as  before,  we  read  thus : 


an  arrangement  immediately  suggestive  of  the  word  '  thir- 
teen,' and  again  furnishing  us  with  two  new  characters, 
i  and  n,  represented  by  6  and  *, 

"  Referring,  now,  to  the  beginning  of  the  cryptograph, 
we  find  the  combination, 

"  Translating  as  before,  we  obtain 

•  good, 
which  assures  us  that  the  first  letter  is  'A,  and  that  the  first 
two  words  are  '  A  good.' 


Edgar  Allan  Poc 

"  It  is  now  time  that  we  arrange  our  key,  as  far  as  dis- 
covered, in  a  tabular  form,  to  avoid  confusion.  It  will 
stand  thus : 

























"  We  have,  therefore,  no  less  than  eleven  of  the  most 
important  letters  represented,  and  it  will  be  unnecessary  to 
proceed  with  the  details  of  the  solution.  I  have  said  enough 
to  convince  you  that  ciphers  of  this  nature  are  readily 
soluble,  and  to  give  you  some  insight  into  the  rationale  of 
their  development.  But  be  assured  that  the  specimen  before 
us  appertains  to  the  very  simplest  species  of  cryptograph. 
It  now  only  remains  to  give  you  the  full  translation  of  the 
characters  upon  the  parchment,  as  unriddled.     Here  it  is: 

"  '  A  good  glass  in  the  bishop's  hostel  in  the  devil's  scat 
forty-one  degrees  and  thirteen  minutes  northeast  and  by 
north  main  branch  seventh  limb  east  side  shoot  from  the 
left  eye  of  the  death's  head  a  bee-line  from  the  tree  through 
the  shot  fifty  feet  out.' " 

"  But,"  said  I,  "  the  enigma  seems  still  in  as  bad  a  con- 
dition as  ever.  How  is  it  possible  to  extort  a  meaning  from 
all  this  jargon  about  '  devil's  seats,'  '  death's  heads,'  and 
'  bishop's  hostels  '  ?  " 

"  I  confess,"  replied  Legrand,  "  that  the  matter  still  wears 
a  serious  aspect,  when  regarded  with  a  casual  glance.    My 


American  Mystery  Stories 

first  endeavor  was  to  divide  the  sentence  into  the  natural 
division  intended  by  the  cryptographist." 

"  You  mean,  to  punctuate  it  ?  " 

*'  Something  of  that  kind." 

■*'  But  how  was  it  possible  to  effect  this  ?  " 

*'  I  reflected  that  it  had  been  a  point  with  the  writer  to 
Tun  his  words  together  without  division,  so  as  to  increase 
the  difficulty  of  solution.  Now,  a  not  overacute  man,  in 
pursuing  such  an  object,  would  be  nearly  certain  to  overdo 
the  matter.  When,  in  the  course  of  his  composition,  he 
arrived  at  a  break  in  his  subject  which  would  naturally 
require  a  pause,  or  a  point,  he  would  be  exceedingly  apt  to 
run  his  characters,  at  this  place,  more  than  usually  close 
together.  If  you  will  observe  the  MS.,  in  the  present  in- 
stance, you  will  easily  detect  five  such  cases  of  unusual 
crowding.    Acting  upon  this  hint,  I  made  the  division  thus : 

"  '  A  good  glass  in  the  bishop's  hostel  in  the  devil's  seat — 
forty-one  degrees  and  thirteen  minutes — northeast  and  by 
north — tnain  branch  seventh  limb  east  side — shoot  from  the 
left  eye  of  the  death's  head — a  bee-line  from  the  tree  through 
the  shot  fifty  feet  out.'  " 

"  Even  this  division,"  said  I,  "  leaves  me  still  in  the 

"  It  left  me  also  in  the  dark,"  repHed  Legrand,  "  for  a 
few  days;  during  which  I  made  diligent  inquiry  in  the 
neighborhood  of  Sullivan's  Island,  for  any  building  which 
went  by  name  of  the  '  Bishop's  Hotel ' ;  for,  of  course,  I 
dropped  the  obsolete  word  '  hostel.'  Gaining  no  informa- 
tion on  the  subject,  I  was  on  the  point  of  extending  my 
sphere  of  search,  and  proceeding  in  a  more  systematic  man- 
ner, when,  one  morning,  it  entered  into  my  head,  quite 
suddenly,  that  this  '  Bishop's  Hostel '  might  have  some  ref- 
erence to  an  old  family,  of  the  name  of  Bessop,  which,  time 
out  of  mind,  had  held  possession  of  an  ancient  manor  house, 
about  four  miles  to  the  northward  of  the  island.  I  accord- 
ingly   went    over   to    the   plantation,   and    reinstituted   my 

1 60 

Edzar  Allan  Poe 


inquiries  among  the  older  negroes  of  the  place.  At  length 
one  of  the  most  aged  of  the  women  said  that  she  had  heard 
of  such  a  place  as  Bessop's  Castle,  and  thought  that  she 
could  guide  me  to  it,  but  that  it  was  not  a  castle,  nor  a 
tavern,  but  a  high  rock. 

"  I  offered  to  pay  her  well  for  her  trouble,  and,  after 
some  demur,  she  consented  to  accompany  me  to  the  spot. 
We  found  it  without  much  difficulty,  when,  dismissing  her, 
I  proceeded  to  examine  the  place.  The  '  castle '  consisted 
of  an  irregular  assemblage  of  cliffs  and  rocks — one  of  the 
latter  being  quite  remarkable  for  its  height  as  well  as  for 
its  insulated  and  artificial  appearance.  I  clambered  to  its 
apex,  and  then  felt  much  at  a  loss  as  to  what  should  be 
next  done. 

"  While  I  was  busied  in  reflection,  my  eyes  fell  upon  a 
narrow  ledge  in  the  eastern  face  of  the  rock,  perhaps  a 
yard  below  the  summit  upon  which  I  stood.  This  ledge 
projected  about  eighteen  inches,  and  was  not  more  than  a 
foot  wide,  while  a  niche  in  the  cliff  just  above  it  gave  it 
a  rude  resemblance  to  one  of  the  hollow-backed  chairs  used 
by  our  ancestors.  I  made  no  doubt  that  here  was  the 
'  devil's  seat '  alluded  to  in  the  MS.,  and  now  I  seemed  to 
grasp  the  full  secret  of  the  riddle. 

"  The  '  good  glass,'  I  knew,  could  have  reference  to 
nothing  but  a  telescope ;  for  the  word  '  glass  '  is  rarely  em- 
ployed in  any  other  sense  by  seamen.  Now  here,  I  at  once 
saw,  was  a  telescope  to  be  used,  and  a  definite  point  of 
view,  admitting  no  variation,  from  which  to  use  it.  Nor 
did  I  hesitate  to  believe  that  the  phrases,  '  forty-one  degrees 
and  thirteen  minutes,'  and  '  northeast  and  by  north,'  were 
intended  as  directions  for  the  leveling  of  the  glass.  Greatly 
excited  by  these  discoveries,  I  hurried  home,  procured  a 
telescope,  and  returned  to  the  rock. 

"  I  let  myself  down  to  the  ledge,  and  found  that  it  was 
impossible  to  retain  a  seat  upon  it  except  in  one  particular 
position.  This  fact  confirmed  my  preconceived  idea.  I 
proceeded  to  use  the  glass.  Of  course,  the  '  forty-one  de- 
grees  and  thirteen  minutes  '   could  allude  to  nothing  but 


American  Mystery  Stories 

elevation  above  the  visible  horizon,  since  the  horizontal 
direction  was  clearly  indicated  by  the  words,  '  northeast 
and  by  north.'  This  latter  direction  I  at  once  established 
by  means  of  a  pocket  compass ;  then,  pointing  the  glass  as 
nearly  at  an  angle  of  forty-one  degrees  of  elevation  as  I 
could  do  it  by  guess,  I  moved  it  cautiously  up  or  down, 
until  my  attention  was  arrested  by  a  circular  rift  or  open- 
ing in  tlie  foliage  of  a  large  tree  that  overtopped  its  fellows 
in  the  distance.  In  the  center  of  this  rift  I  perceived  a 
white  spot,  but  could  not,  at  first,  distinguish  what  it  was. 
Adjusting  the  focus  of  the  telescope,  I  again  looked,  and 
now  made  it  out  to  be  a  human  skull. 

"  Upon  this  discovery  I  was  so  sanguine  as  to  consider 
the  enigina  solved ;  for  the  phrase  '  main  branch,  seventh 
limb,  east  side,'  could  refer  only  to  the  position  of  the  skull 
upon  the  tree,  while  '  shoot  from  the  left  eye  of  the  death's 
liead '  admitted,  also,  of  but  one  interpretation,  in  regard 
to  a  search  for  buried  treasure.  I  perceived  that  the  design 
was  to  drop  a  bullet  from  the  left  eye  of  the  skull,  and  that 
a  bee-line,  or,  in  other  words,  a  straight  line,  drawn  from 
the  nearest  point  of  the  trunk  'through  the  shot'  (or  the 
spot  where  the  bullet  fell),  and  thence  extended  to  a  dis- 
tance of  fifty  feet,  would  indicate  a  definite  point — and 
beneath  this  point  I  thought  it  at  least  possible  that  a  deposit 
of  value  lay  concealed." 

"  All  this,"  I  said,  "  is  exceedingly  clear,  and,  although 
ingenious,  still  simple  and  explicit.  When  you  left  the 
Bishop's  Hotel,  what  then  ?  " 

"  Why,  having  carefully  taken  the  bearings  of  the  tree, 
I  turned  homeward.  The  instant  that  I  left  '  the  devil's 
seat,'  however,  the  circular  rift  vanished ;  nor  could  I  get 
a  glimpse  of  it  afterwards,  turn  as  I  would.  What  seems 
to  me  the  chief  ingenuity  in  this  whole  business,  is  the  fact 
(for  repeated  experiment  has  convinced  me  it  is  a  fact) 
that  the  circular  opening  in  question  is  visible  from  no  other 
attainable  point  of  view  than  that  afforded  by  the  narrow 
ledge  upon  the  face  of  the  rock. 

"  In  this  expedition  to  the  '  Bishop's  Hotel '  I  had  been 


Edgar  Allan  Poe 

attended  by  Jupiter,  who  had,  no  doubt,  observed,  for  some 
weeks  past,  the  abstraction  of  my  demeanor,  and  took  espe- 
cial care  not  to  leave  me  alone.  But,  on  the  next  day, 
getting  up  very  early,  I  contrived  to  give  him  the  slip,  and 
went  into  the  hills  in  search  of  the  tree.  After  much  toil 
I  found  it.  When  I  came  home  at  night  my  valet  proposed 
to  give  me  a  flogging.  With  the  rest  of  the  adventure  I 
believe  you  are  as  well  acquainted  as  myself." 

"  I  suppose,"  said  I,  "  you  missed  the  spot,  in  the  first 
attempt  at  digging,  through  Jupiter's  stupidity  in  letting 
the  bug  fall  through  the  right  instead  of  through  the  left 
eye  of  the  skull." 

"  Precisely.  This  mistake  made  a  difference  of  about 
two  inches  and  a  half  in  the  *  shot ' — that  is  to  say,  in  the 
position  of  the  peg  nearest  the  tree ;  and  had  the  treasure 
been  beneath  the  '  shot,'  the  error  would  have  been  of  little 
moment ;  but  '  the  shot,'  together  with  the  nearest  point  of 
the  tree,  were  merely  two  points  for  the  establishment  of  a 
line  of  direction;  of  course  the  error,  however  trivial  in 
the  beginning,  increased  as  we  proceeded  with  the  line,  and 
by  the  time  we  had  gone  fifty  feet  threw  us  quite  off  the 
scent.  But  for  my  deep-seated  impressions  that  treasure 
was  here  somewhere  actually  buried,  we  might  have  had 
all  our  labor  in  vain." 

"  But  your  grandiloquence,  and  your  conduct  in  swinging 
the  beetle — how  excessively  odd!  I  was  sure  you  were 
mad.  And  why  did  you  insist  upon  letting  fall  the  bug, 
instead  of  a  bullet,  from  the  skull  ?  " 

"  Why,  to  be  frank,  I  felt  somewhat  annoyed  by  your 
evident  suspicions  touching  my  sanity,  and  so  resolved  to 
punish  you  quietly,  in  my  own  way,  by  a  little  bit  of  sober 
mystification.  For  this  reason  I  swung  the  beetle,  and  for 
this  reason  I  let  it  fall  from  the  tree.  An  observation  of 
yours  about  its  great  weight  suggested  the  latter  idea." 

"  Yes,  I  perceive ;  and  now  there  is  only  one  point  which 
puzzles  me.  What  are  we  to  make  of  the  skeletons  found 
in  the  hole?" 

"  That  is  a  question  I  am  no  more  able  to  answer  than 


American  Mystery  Stories 

yourself.  There  seems,  however,  only  one  plausible  way 
of  accounting  for  them — and  yet  it  is  dreadful  to  believe  in 
such  atrocity  as  my  suggestion  would  imply.  It  is  clear 
that  Kidd — if  Kidd  indeed  secreted  this  treasure,  which  I 
doubt  not — it  is  clear  that  he  must  have  had  assistance  in 
the  labor.  But  this  labor  concluded,  he  may  have  thought 
it  expedient  to  remove  all  participants  in  his  secret.  Per- 
haps a  couple  of  blows  with  a  mattock  were  sufificient,  while 
his  coadjutors  were  busy  in  the  pit;  perhaps  it  required  a 
dozen — who  shall  tell  ?  " 


Washington  Irving 

Wolfert  Webber  or  Golden  Dreams 

T  N  the  year  of  grace  one  thousand  seven  hundred  and — 
blank — for  I  do  not  remember  the  precise  date ;  however, 
it  was  somewhere  in  the  early  part  of  the  last  century, — 
there  lived  in  the  ancient  city  of  the  Manhattoes  a  worthy 
burgher,  Wolfert  Webber  by  name.  He  was  descended  from 
old  Cobus  Webber  of  the  Brill  ^  in  Holland,  one  of  the 
original  settlers,  famous  for  introducing  the  cultivation  of 
cabbages,  and  who  came  over  to  the  province  during  the 
protectorship  of  Olofife  Van  Kortlandt,  otherwise  called  "  the 

The  field  in  which  Cobus  Webber  first  planted  himself  and 
his  cabbages  had  remained  ever  since  in  the  family,  who 
continued  in  the  same  line  of  husbandry  with  that  praise- 
worthy perseverance  for  which  our  Dutch  burghers  are 
noted.  The  whole  family  genius,  during  several  genera- 
tions, was  devoted  to  the  study  and  development  of  this  one 
noble  vegetable,  and  to  this  concentration  of  intellect  may 
doubtless  be  ascribed  the  prodigious  renown  to  which  the 
Webber  cabbages  attained. 

The  Webber  dynasty  continued  in  uninterrupted  succes- 
sion, and  never  did  a  line  give  more  unquestionable  proofs 
of  legitimacy.  The  eldest  son  succeeded  to  the  looks  as 
well  as  the  territory  of  his  sire,  and  had  the  portraits 
of  this  line  of  tranquil  potentates  been  taken,  they  would 
have  presented  a  row  of  heads  marvelously  resembling, 
in  shape  and  magnitude,  the  vegetables  over  which  they 

The    seat    of    government    continued    unchanged    in   the 

'  The  Brill  is  a  fortified  seaport  of  Holland,  on  the  Meuse  River, 
near  Rotterdam. 


American  Mystery  Stories 

family  mansion, — a  Dutch-built  house,  with  a  front,  or  rather 
gable  end,  of  yellow  brick,  tapering  to  a  point,  with  the 
customary  iron  weathercock  at  the  top.  Everything  about 
the  building  bore  the  air  of  long-settled  ease  and  security. 
Flights  of  martins  peopled  the  little  coops  nailed  against  its 
walls,  and  swallows  built  their  nests  under  the  eaves,  and 
everyone  knows  that  these  house-loving  birds  bring  good 
luck  to  the  dwelling  where  they  take  up  their  abode.  In  a 
bright  summer  morning  in  early  summer,  it  was  delectable 
to  hear  their  cheerful  notes  as  they  sported  about  in  the 
pure,  sweet  air,  chirping  forth,  as  it  were,  the  greatness  and 
prosperity  of  the  Webbers. 

Thus  quietly  and  comfortably  did  this  excellent  family 
vegetate  under  the  shade  of  a  mighty  buttonwood  tree,  which 
by  little  and  little  grew  so  great  as  entirely  to  overshadow 
their  palace.  The  city  gradually  spread  its  suburbs  round 
their  domain.  Houses  sprang  up  to  interrupt  their  pros- 
pects. The  rural  lanes  in  the  vicinity  began  to  grow  into 
the  bustle  and  populousness  of  streets ;  in  short,  with  all  the 
habits  of  rustic  life  they  began  to  find  themselves  the  inhab- 
itants of  a  city.  Still,  however,  they  maintained  their  hered- 
itary character  and  hereditary  possessions,  with  all  the 
tenacity  of  petty  German  princes  in  the  midst  of  the  empire. 
Wolfert  was  the  last  of  the  line,  and  succeeded  to  the  patri- 
archal bench  at  the  door,  under  the  family  tree,  and  swayed 
the  scepter  of  his  fathers, — a  kind  of  rural  potentate  in  the 
midst  of  the  metropolis. 

To  share  the  cares  and  sweets  of  sovereignty  he  had  taken 
unto  himself  a  helpmate,  one  of  that  excellent  kind  called 
"  stirring  women  " ;  that  is  to  say,  she  was  one  of  those  nota- 
ble little  housewives  who  are  always  busy  where  there  is 
nothing  to  do.  Her  activity,  however,  took  one  particular 
direction, — her  whole  life  seemed  devoted  to  intense  knit- 
ting; whether  at  home  or  abroad,  walking  or  sitting,  her 
needles  were  continually  in  motion,  and  it  is  even  affirmed 
that  by  her  unwearied  industry  she  very  nearly  supplied  her 
household  with  stockings  throughout  the  year.  This  worthy 
couple  were  blessed  with  one  daughte*"  who  was  brought  up 


Washington  Irving 

with  great  tenderness  and  care ;  uncommon  pains  had  been 
taken  with  her  education,  so  that  she  could  stitch  in  every 
variety  of  way,  make  all  kinds  of  pickles  and  preserves,  and 
mark  her  own  name  on  a  sampler.  The  influence  of  her 
taste  was  seen  also  in  the  family  garden,  where  the  orna- 
mental began  to  mingle  with  the  useful ;  whole  rows  of  fiery 
marigolds  and  splendid  hollyhocks  bordered  the  cabbage 
beds,  and  gigantic  sunflowers  lolled  their  broad,  jolly  faces 
over  the  fences,  seeming  to  ogle  most  affectionately  the 

Thus  reigned  and  vegetated  Wolfert  Webber  over  his 
paternal  acres,  peacefully  and  contentedly.  Not  but  that, 
like  all  other  sovereigns,  he  had  his  occasional  cares  and 
vexations.  The  growth  of  his  native  city  sometimes  caused 
him  annoyance.  His  little  territory  gradually  became 
hemmed  in  by  streets  and  houses,  which  intercepted  air  and 
sunshine.  He  was  now  and  then  subjected  to  the  eruptions 
of  the  border  population  that  infest  the  streets  of  a  metropo- 
lis, who  would  make  midnight  forays  into  his  dominions, 
and  carry  off  captive  whole  platoons  of  his  noblest  subjects. 
Vagrant  swine  would  make  a  descent,  too,  now  and  then, 
when  the  gate  was  left  open,  and  lay  all  waste  before  them ; 
and  mischievous  urchins  would  decapitate  the  illustrious  sun- 
flowers, the  glory  of  the  garden,  as  they  lolled  their  heads 
so  fondly  over  the  walls.  Still  all  these  were  petty  griev- 
ances, which  might  now  and  then  ruffle  the  surface  of  his 
mind,  as  a  summer  breeze  will  ruffle  the  surface  of  a  mill 
pond,  but  they  could  not  disturb  the  deep-seated  quiet  of  his 
soul.  He  would  but  seize  a  trusty  staff  that  stood  behind 
the  door,  issue  suddenly  out,  and  anoint  the  back  of  the 
aggressor,  whether  pig  or  urchin,  and  then  return  within 
doors,  marvelously  refreshed  and  tranquilized. 

The  chief  cause  of  anxiety  to  honest  Wolfert,  however, 
was  the  growing  prosperity  of  the  city.  The  expenses  of 
living  doubled  and  trebled,  but  he  could  not  double  and 
treble  the  magnitude  of  his  cabbages,  and  the  number  of 
competitors  prevented  the  increase  of  price ;  thus,  therefore, 
while   everyone   around   him   grew    richer,   Wolfert   grew 


American  Mystery  Stories 

poorer,  and  he  could  not,  for  the  hfe  of  him,  perceive  how 
the  evil  was  to  be  remedied. 

This  growing  care,  which  increased  from  day  to  day,  had 
its  gradual  effect  upon  our  worthy  burgher,  insomuch  that 
it  at  length  implanted  two  or  three  wrinkles  in  his  brow, 
things  unknown  before  in  the  family  of  the  Webbers,  and 
it  seemed  to  pinch  up  the  corners  of  his  cocked  hat  into 
an  expression  of  anxiety  totally  opposite  to  the  tranquil, 
broad-brimmed,  low-crowned  beavers  of  his  illustrious 

Perhaps  even  this  would  not  have  i/  -nally  disturbed  the 
serenity  of  his  mind  had  he  had  only  himself  and  his  wife  to 
care  for;  but  there  was  his  daughter  gradually  growing  to 
maturity,  and  all  the  world  knows  that  when  daughters  be- 
gin to  ripen,  no  fruit  nor  flower  requires  so  much  looking 
after.  I  have  no  talent  at  describing  female  charms,  else 
fain  would  I  depict  the  progress  of  this  little  Dutch  beauty : 
how  her  blue  eyes  grew  deeper  and  deeper,  and  her  cherry 
lips  redder  and  redder,  and  how  she  ripened  and  ripened, 
and  rounded  and  rounded,  in  the  opening  breath  of  sixteen 
summers,  until,  in  her  seventeenth  spring,  she  seemed  ready 
to  burst  out  of  her  bodice,  like  a  half-blown  rosebud. 

Ah,  well-a-day!  Could  I  but  show  her  as  she  was  then, 
tricked  out  on  a  Sunday  morning  in  the  hereditary  finery 
of  the  old  Dutch  clothespress,  of  which  her  mother  had  con- 
fided to  her  the  key !  The  wedding  dress  of  her  grand- 
mother, modernized  for  use,  with  sundry  ornaments,  handed 
down  as  heirlooms  in  the  family.  Her  pale  brown  hair 
smoothed  with  buttermilk  in  flat,  waving  lines  on  each  side 
of  her  fair  forehead.  The  chain  of  yellow,  virgin  gold  that 
encircled  her  neck;  the  little  cross  that  just  rested  at  the 
entrance  of  a  soft  valley  of  happiness,  as  if  it  would  sanctify 
the  place.  The — but  pooh !  it  is  not  for  an  old  man  like  me 
to  be  prosing  about  female  beauty;  suffice  it  to  say,  Amy 
had  attained  her  seventeenth  year.  Long  since  had  her 
sampler  exhibited  hearts  in  couples  desperately  transfixed 
with  arrows,  and  true  lovers'  knots  worked  in  deep  blue  silk, 
and  it  was  evident  she  began  to  languish  for  some  more 

1 68 

Washington  Irving 

interesting  occupation   than   the   rearing  of   sunflowers   or 
pickling  of  cucumbers. 

At  this  critical  period  of  female  existence,  when  the  heart 
within  a  damsel's  bosom,  like  its  emblem,  the  miniature 
which  hangs  without,  is  apt  to  be  engrossed  by  a  single 
image,  a  new  visitor  began  to  make  his  appearance  under 
the  roof  of  Wolfert  Webber.  This  was  Dirk  Waldron,  the 
only  son  of  a  poor  widow,  but  who  could  boast  of  more 
fathers  than  any  lad  in  the  province,  for  his  mother  had  had 
four  husbands,  and  this  only  child,  so  that,  though  born  in 
her  last  wedlock,  he  might  fairly  claim  to  be  the  tardy  fruit 
of  a  long  course  of  cultivation.  This  son  of  four  fathers 
united  the  merits  and  the  vigor  of  all  his  sires.  If  he  had 
not  had  a  great  family  before  him  he  seemed  likely  to  have 
a  great  one  after  him,  for  you  had  only  to  look  at  the  fresh, 
buxom  youth  to  see  that  he  was  formed  to  be  the  founder 
of  a  mighty  race. 

This  youngster  gradually  became  an  intimate  visitor  of 
the  family.  He  talked  little,  but  he  sat  long.  He  filled  the 
father's  pipe  when  it  was  empty,  gathered  up  the  mother's 
knitting  needle,  or  ball  of  worsted,  when  it  fell  to  the 
ground,  stroked  the  sleek  coat  of  the  tortoise-shell  cat,  and 
replenished  the  teapot  for  the  daughter  from  the  bright  cop- 
per kettle  that  sang  before  the  fire.  All  these  quiet  little 
offices  may  seem  of  trifling  import,  but  when  true  love  is 
translated  into  Low  Dutch  it  is  in  this  way  that  it  eloquently 
expresses  itself.  They  were  not  lost  upon  the  Webber  fam- 
ily. The  winning  youngster  found  marvelous  favor  in  the 
eyes  of  the  mother;  the  tortoise-shell  cat,  albeit  the  most 
staid  and  demure  of  her  kind,  gave  indubitable  signs  of 
approbation  of  his  visits ;  the  teakettle  seemed  to  sing  out  a 
cheering  note  of  welcome  at  his  approach;  and  if  the  sly 
glances  of  the  daughter  might  be  rightly  read,  as  she  sat 
bridling  and  dimpling,  and  sewing  by  her  mother's  side,  she 
was  not  a  whit  behind  Dame  Webber,  or  grimalkin,  or  the 
teakettle,  in  good  will. 

Wolfert  alone  saw  nothing  of  what  was  going  on.    Pro- 
foundly wrapt  up  in  meditation  on  the  growth  of  the  city 


American  Mystery  Stories 

and  his  cabbages,  he  sat  looking  in  the  fire,  and  puffing  his 
pipe  in  silence.  One  night,  however,  as  the  gentle  Amy, 
according  to  custom,  lighted  her  lover  to  the  outer  door, 
and  he,  according  to  custom,  took  his  parting  salute,  the 
smack  resounded  so  vigorously  through  the  long,  silent  entry 
as  to  startle  even  the  dull  ear  of  Wolfert.  He  was  slowly 
roused  to  a  new  source  of  anxiety.  It  had  never  entered 
into  his  head  that  this  mere  child,  who,  as  it  seemed,  but  the 
other  day  had  been  climbing  about  his  knees  and  playing 
with  dolls  and  baby  houses,  could  all  at  once  be  thinking  of 
lovers  and  matrimony.  He  rubbed  his  eyes,  examined  into 
the  fact,  and  really  found  that  while  he  had  been  dreaming 
of  other  matters,  she  had  actually  grown  to  be  a  woman, 
and,  what  was  worse,  had  fallen  in  love.  Here  arose  new 
cares  for  Wolfert.  He  was  a  kind  father,  but  he  was  a 
prudent  man.  The  young  man  was  a  lively,  stirring  lad, 
but  then  he  had  neither  money  nor  land.  Wolfert's  ideas 
all  ran  in  one  channel,  and  he  saw  no  alternative  in  case 
of  a  marriage  but  to  portion  ofif  the  young  couple  with  a 
corner  of  his  cabbage  garden,  the  whole  of  which  was  barely 
sufficient  for  the  support  of  his  family. 

Like  a  prudent  father,  therefore,  he  determined  to  nip  this 
passion  in  the  bud,  and  forbade  the  youngster  the  house, 
though  sorely  did  it  go  against  his  fatherly  heart,  and  many 
a  silent  tear  did  it  cause  in  the  bright  eye  of  his  daughter. 
She  showed  herself,  however,  a  pattern  of  filial  piety  and 
obedience.  She  never  pouted  and  sulked ;  she  never  flew  in 
the  face  of  parental  authority ;  she  never  flew  into  a  passion, 
nor  fell  into  hysterics,  as  many  romantic,  novel-read  young 
ladies  would  do.  Not  she,  indeed.  She  was  none  such 
heroical,  rebellious  trumpery,  I'll  warrant  ye.  On  the  con- 
trary, she  acquiesced  like  an  obedient  daughter,  shut  the 
street  door  in  her  lover's  face,  and  if  ever  she  did  grant  him 
an  interview,  it  was  either  out  of  the  kitchen  window  or 
over  the  garden  fence. 

Wolfert  was  deeply  cogitating  these  matters  in  his  mind, 
and  his  brow  wrinkled  with  unusual  care,  as  he  wended  his 
way  one  Saturday  afternoon  to  a  rural  inn,  about  two  miles 


Washington  Irving 

from  the  city.  It  was  a  favorite  resort  of  the  Dutch  part 
of  the  community,  from  being  always  held  by  a  Dutch  line 
of  landlords,  and  retaining  an  air  and  relish  of  the  good  old 
times.  It  was  a  Dutch-built  house,  that  had  probably  been 
a  country  seat  of  some  opulent  burgher  in  the  early  time  of 
the  settlement.  It  stood  near  a  point  of  land  called  Corlear's 
Hook,^  which  stretches  out  into  the  Sound,  and  against 
which  the  tide,  at  its  flux  and  reflux,  sets  with  extraordi- 
nary rapidity.  The  venerable  and  somewhat  crazy  man- 
sion was  distinguished  from  afar  by  a  grove  of  elms  and 
sycamores  that  seemed  to  wave  a  hospitable  invitation, 
while  a  few  weeping  willows,  with  their  dank,  drooping 
foliage,  resembling  falling  waters,  gave  an  idea  of  cool- 
ness that  rendered  it  an  attractive  spot  during  the  heats  of 

Here,  therefore,  as  I  said,  resorted  many  of  the  old  in- 
habitants of  the  Manhattoes,  where,  while  some  played  at 
shuffleboard  -  and  quoits,^  and  ninepins,  others  smoked  a  de- 
liberate pipe,  and  talked  over  public  affairs. 

It  was  on  a  blustering  autumnal  afternoon  that  Wolfert 
made  his  visit  to  the  inn.  The  grove  of  elms  and  willows 
was  stripped  of  its  leaves,  which  whirled  in  rustling  eddies 
about  the  fields.  The  ninepin  alley  was  deserted,  for  the 
premature  chilliness  of  the  day  had  driven  the  company 
within  doors.  As  it  was  Saturday  afternoon  the  habitual 
club  was  in  session,  composed  principally  of  regular  Dutch 
burghers,  though  mingled  occasionally  with  persons  of 
various  character  and  country,  as  is  natural  in  a  place  of 
such  motley  population. 

Beside  the  fireplace,  in  a  huge,  leather-bottomed  arm- 
chair, sat  the  dictator  of  this  little  world,  the  venerable  Rem, 
or,  as  it  was  pronounced,  "  Ranim  "  Rapelye.     He  was  a 

»  A  point  of  land  at  the  bend  of  the  East  River  below  Grand 
Street,  New  York  City. 

2  A  game  played  by  pushing  or  shaking  pieces  of  money  or  metal 
so  as  to  make  them  reach  certain  marks  on  a  board. 

3  A  game  played  by  pitching  a  flattened,  ring-shaped  piece  of 
iron,  called  a  quoit,  at  a  fixed  object. 


American  Mystery  Stories 

man  of  Walloon  ^  race,  and  illustrious  for  the  antiquity  of 
his  line,  his  great-grandmother  having  been  the  first  white 
child  born  in  the  province.    But  he  was  still  more  illustrious 
for  his  wealth  and  dignity.     He  had  long  filled  the  noble 
office  of  alderman,  and  was  a  man  to  whom  the  governor 
himself  took  off  his  hat.     He  had  maintained  possession  of 
the  leather-bottomed  chair  from  time  immemorial,  and  had 
gradually  waxed  in  bulk  as  he  sat  in  his  seat  of  government, 
until  in  the  course  of  years  he  filled  its  whole  magnitude. 
His  word  was  decisive  with  his  subjects,  for  he  was  so  rich 
a  man  that  he  was  never  expected  to  support  any  opinion  by 
argument.     The  landlord  waited  on  him  with  pecuHar  offi- 
ciousness, — not  that  he  paid  better  than  his  neighbors,  but 
then  the  coin  of  a  rich  man  seems  always  to  be  so  much 
more  acceptable.     The  landlord  had  ever  a  pleasant  word 
and  a  joke  to  insinuate  in  the  ear  of  the  august  Ramm.    It 
is  true  Ramm  never  laughed,  and,  indeed,  ever  maintained 
a  mastiff-like  gravity  and  even  surliness  of  aspect;  yet  he 
now  and  then  rewarded  mine  host  with  a  token  of  approba- 
tion, which,  though  nothing  more  nor  less  than  a  kind  of 
grunt,  still  delighted  the  landlord  more  than  a  broad  laugh 

from  a  poorer  man. 

"  This  will  be  a  rough  night  for  the  money  diggers,"  said 

mine  host,  as  a  gust  of  wind  howled  round  the  house  and 

rattled  at  the  windows. 

"  What !  are  they  at  their  works  again  ?  "  said  an  English 

half-pay  captain,  with  one  eye,  who  was  a  very  frequent 

attendant  at  the  inn. 

"  Aye  are  they,"  said  the  landlord,  "  and  well  may  they 

be.     They've  had  luck  of  late.     They  say  a  great  pot  of 

money  has  been  dug  up  in  the  fields  just  behind  Stuyvesant's 

orchard.    Folks  think  it  must  have  been  buried  there  in  old 

times  by  Peter  Stuyvesant,  the  Dutch  governor." 

"  Fudg-e ! "  said  the  one-eved  man  of  war,  as  he  added  a 

small  portion  of  water  to  a  bottom  of  brandy. 

1  A  people  of  French  origin,  inhabiting  the  frontiers  between 
France  and  Flanders.  A  colony  of  one  hundred  and  ten  Walloons 
came  to  New  York  in  1624. 


Washington  Irving 

"  Well,  you  may  believe  it  or  not,  as  you  please,"  said 
mine  host,  somewhat  nettled,  "  but  everybody  knows  that 
the  old  governor  buried  a  great  deal  of  his  money  at  the 
time  of  the  Dutch  troubles,  when  the  English  redcoats  seized 
on  the  province.  They  say,  too,  the  old  gentleman  walks, 
aye,  and  in  the  very  same  dress  that  he  wears  in  the  picture 
that  hangs  up  in  the  family  house." 

"  Fudge !  "  said  the  half-pay  officer. 

"  Fudge,  if  you  please !  But  didn't  Corney  Van  Zandt  see 
him  at  midnight,  stalking  about  in  the  meadow  with  his 
wooden  leg,  and  a  drawn  sword  in  his  hand,  that  flashed 
like  fire?  And  what  can  he  be  walking  for  but  because 
people  have  been  troubling  the  place  where  he  buried  his 
money  in  old  times  ?  " 

Here  the  landlord  was  interrupted  by  several  guttural 
sounds  from  Ramm  Rapelye,  betokening  that  he  was  labor- 
ing with  the  unusual  production  of  an  idea.  As  he  was  too 
great  a  man  to  be  slighted  by  a  prudent  publican,  mine  host 
respectfully  paused  until  he  should  deliver  himself.  The 
corpulent  frame  of  this  mighty  burgher  now  gave  all  the 
symptoms  of  a  volcanic  mountain  on  the  point  of  an  erup- 
tion. First  there  was  a  certain  heaving  of  the  abdomen,  not 
unlike  an  earthquake ;  then  was  emitted  a  cloud  of  tobacco 
smoke  from  that  crater,  his  mouth ;  then  there  was  a  kind 
of  rattle  in  the  throat,  as  if  the  idea  were  working  its  way 
up  through  a  region  of  phlegm;  then  there  were  several 
disjointed  members  of  a  sentence  thrown  out,  ending  in  a 
cough ;  at  length  his  voice  forced  its  way  into  a  slow,  but 
absolute  tone  of  a  man  who  feels  the  weight  of  his  purse, 
if  not  of  his  ideas,  every  portion  of  his  speech  being  marked 
by  a  testy  puff  of  tobacco  smoke. 

"Who  talks  of  old  Peter  Stuyvesant's  walking?  (puff). 
Have  people  no  respect  for  persons?  (puff — puff).  Peter 
Stuyvesant  knew  better  what  to  do  with  his  money  than  to 
bury  it  (puff).  I  know  the  Stuyvesant  family  (puff),  every 
one  of  them  (puff)  ;  not  a  more  respectable  family  in  the 
province  (puff) — old  standards  (puff) — warm  householders 
(puff) — none  of  your  upstarts  (puff — puff — puff).     Don't 


American  Mystery  Stories 

talk  to  me  of  Peter  Stuyvesant's  walking  (puff — puff — 
puff— puff)." 

Here  the  redoubtable  Ramm  contracted  his  brow,  clasped 
up  his  mouth  till  it  wrinkled  at  each  corner,  and  redoubled 
his  smoking  with  such  vehemence  that  the  cloudy  volumes 
soon  wreathed  round  his  head,  as  the  smoke  envelops  the 
awful  summit  of  Mount  ^tna. 

A  general  silence  followed  the  sudden  rebuke  of  this  very 
rich  man.  The  subject,  however,  was  too  interesting  to  be 
readily  abandoned.  The  conversation  soon  broke  forth  again 
from  the  lips  of  Peechy  Prauw  Van  Hook,  the  chronicler  of 
the  club,  one  of  those  prosing,  narrative  old  men  who  seem  to 
be  troubled  with  an  incontinence  of  words  as  they  grow  old. 

Peechy  could,  at  any  time,  tell  as  many  stories  in  an  even- 
ing as  his  hearers  could  digest  in  a  month.  He  now  resumed 
the  conversation  by  affirming  that,  to  his  knowledge,  money 
had,  at  different  times,  been  digged  up  in  various  parts  of 
the  island.  The  lucky  persons  who  had  discovered  them  had 
always  dreamed  of  them  three  times  beforehand,  and,  what 
was  worthy  of  remark,  those  treasures  had  never  been  found 
but  by  some  descendant  of  the  good  old  Dutch  families, 
which  clearly  proved  that  they  had  been  buried  by  Dutch- 
men in  the  olden  time. 

"  Fiddlestick  with  your  Dutchmen !  "  cried  the  half-pay 
officer.  "  The  Dutch  had  nothing  to  do  with  them.  They 
were  all  buried  by  Kidd  the  pirate,  and  his  crew." 

Here  a  keynote  was  touched  that  roused  the  whole  com- 
pany. The  name  of  Captain  Kidd  was  like  a  talisman  in 
those  times,  and  was  associated  with  a  thousand  marvelous 

The  half-pay  officer  took  the  lead,  and  in  his  narrations 
fathered  upon  Kidd  all  the  plunderings  and  exploits  of  Mor- 
gan,^ Blackbeard,-  and  the  whole  list  of  bloody  buccaneers. 

'Sir  Henry  Morgan  (1637-90),  a  noted  Welsh  buccaneer.  He 
was  captured  and  sent  to  England  for  trial,  but  Charles  II.,  instead 
of  punishing  him,  knighted  him,  and  subsequently  appointed  him 
governor  of  Jamaica. 

'  Edward  Teach,  one  of  the  most  cruel  of  the  pirates,  took  com- 

Washington  Irving 

The  officer  was  a  man  of  great  weight  among  the  peace- 
able members  of  the  ckib,  by  reason  of  his  warHke  character 
and  gunpowder  tales.  All  his  golden  stories  of  Kidd,  how- 
ever, and  of  the  booty  he  had  buried,  were  obstinately  rivaled 
by  the  tales  of  Peechy  Prauw,  who,  rather  than  suffer  his 
Dutch  progenitors  to  be  eclipsed  by  a  foreign  freebooter,  en- 
riched every  field  and  shore  in  the  neighborhood  with  the 
hidden  wealth  of  Peter  Stuyvesant  and  his  contemporaries. 

Not  a  word  of  this  conversation  was  lost  upon  Wolfert 
Webber.  He  returned  pensively  home,  full  of  magnificent 
ideas.  The  soil  of  his  native  island  seemed  to  be  turned  into 
gold  dust,  and  every  field  to  teem  with  treasure.  His  head 
almost  reeled  at  the  thought  how  often  he  must  have  heed- 
lessly rambled  over  places  where  countless  sums  lay,  scarcely 
covered  by  the  turf  beneath  his  feet.  His  mind  was  in  an 
uproar  with  this  whirl  of  new  ideas.  As  he  came  in  sight 
of  the  venerable  mansion  of  his  forefathers,  and  the  little 
realm  where  the  Webbers  had  so  long  and  so  contentedly 
flourished,  his  gorge  rose  at  the  narrowness  of  his  destiny. 

"  Unlucky  Wolfert !  "  exclaimed  he ;  "  others  can  go  to 
bed  and  dream  themselves  into  whole  mines  of  wealth ;  they 
have  but  to  seize  a  spade  in  the  morning,  and  turn  up 
doubloons  ^  like  potatoes ;  but  thou  must  dream  of  hardships, 
and  rise  to  poverty,  must  dig  thy  field  from  year's  end  to 
year's  end,  and  yet  raise  nothing  but  cabbages !  " 

Wolfert  Webber  went  to  bed  with  a  heavy  heart,  and  it 
was  long  before  the  golden  visions  that  disturbed  his  brain 
permitted  him  to  sink  into  repose.  The  same  visions,  how- 
ever, extended  into  his  sleeping  thoughts,  and  assumed  a 
more  definite  form.  He  dreamed  that  he  had  discovered  an 
immense  treasure  in  the  center  of  his  garden.  At  every 
stroke  of  the  spade  he  laid  bare  a  golden  ingot ;  diamond 
crosses  sparkled  out  of  the  dust ;  bags  of  money  turned  up 

mand  of  a  pirate  ship  in  1 7 1 7 ,  and  thereafter  committed  all  sorts  of 
atrocities  until  he  was  slain  by  Lieutenant  Maynard  in  17 18.  His 
nickname  of  "Blackbeard"  was  given  him  because  of  his  black 

1  Spanish  gold  coins,  equivalent  to  $15.60. 

American  Mystery  Stories 

their  bellies,  corpulent  with  pieces-of-eight  ^  or  venerable 
doubloons ;  and  chests  wedged  close  with  moidores,^  ducats,^ 
and  pistareens,*  yawned  before  his  ravished  eyes,  and  vom- 
ited forth  their  glittering  contents. 

Wolfert  awoke  a  poorer  man  than  ever.  He  had  no  heart 
to  go  about  his  daily  concerns,  which  appeared  so  paltry  and 
profitless,  but  sat  all  day  long  in  the  chimney  corner,  pictur- 
ing to  himself  ingots  and  heaps  of  gold  in  the  fire.  The 
next  night  his  dream  was  repeated.  He  was  again  in  his 
garden  digging,  and  laying  open  stores  of  hidden  wealth. 
There  was  something  very  singular  in  this  repetition.  He 
passed  another  day  of  reverie,  and  though  it  was  clean- 
ing day,  and  the  house,  as  usual  in  Dutch  households,  com- 
pletely topsy-turvy,  yet  he  sat  unmoved  amidst  the  general 

The  third  night  he  went  to  bed  with  a  palpitating  heart. 
He  put  on  his  red  nightcap  wrong  side  outward,  for  good 
luck.  It  was  deep  midnight  before  his  anxious  mind  could 
settle  itself  into  sleep.  Again  the  golden  dream  was  re- 
peated, and  again  he  saw  his  garden  teeming  with  ingots  and 
money  bags. 

Wolfert  rose  the  next  morning  in  complete  bewilderment. 
A  dream,  three  times  repeated,  was  never  known  to  lie,  and 
if  so,  his  fortune  was  made. 

In  his  agitation  he  put  on  his  waistcoat  with  the  hind  part 
before,  and  this  was  a  corroboration  of  good  luck.°  He  no 
longer  doubted  that  a  huge  store  of  money  lay  buried  some- 
where in  his  cabbage  field,  coyly  waiting  to  be  sought  for, 
and  he  repined  at  having  so  long  been  scratching  about  the 
surface  of  the  soil  instead  of  digging  to  the  center. 

He  took  his  seat  at  the  breakfast  table,  full  of  these  specu- 
lations, asked  his  daughter  to  put  a  lump  of  gold  into  his 

'  Spanish  coins,  worth  about  $i  each. 

*  Portuguese  gold  coins,  valued  at  $6.50. 

» Coins  of  gold  and  silver,  valued  at  $2  and  $1  respectively. 

•  Spanish  silver  coins,  worth  about  $.20. 

» It  is  an  old  superstition  that  to  put  on  one's  clothes  wrong  side 
out  forebodes  good  luck. 


Washington  Irving 

tea,  and  on  handing  his  wife  a  plate  of  slapjacks,  begged  her 
to  help  herself  to  a  doubloon. 

His  grand  care  now  was  how  to  secure  this  immense  treas- 
ure without  its  being  known.  Instead  of  his  working  regularly 
in  his  grounds  in  the  daytime,  he  now  stole  from  his  bed  at 
night,  and  with  spade  and  pickax  went  to  work  to  rip  up 
and  dig  about  his  paternal  acres,  from  one  end  to  the  other. 
In  a  little  time  the  whole  garden,  which  had  presented  such 
a  goodly  and  regular  appearance,  with  its  phalanx  of  cab- 
bages, like  a  vegetable  army  in  battle  array,  was  reduced  to 
a  scene  of  devastation,  while  the  relentless  Wolfert,  with 
nightcap  on  head  and  lantern  and  spade  in  hand,  stalked 
through  the  slaughtered  ranks,  the  destroying  angel  of  his 
own  vegetable  world. 

Every  morning  bore  testimony  to  the  ravages  of  the  pre- 
ceding night  in  cabbages  of  all  ages  and  conditions,  from 
the  tender  sprout  to  the  full-grown  head,  piteously  rooted 
from  their  quiet  beds  like  worthless  weeds,  and  left  to 
wither  in  the  sunshine.  In  vain  Wolfert's  wife  remon- 
strated ;  in  vain  his  darling  daughter  wept  over  the  destruc- 
tion of  some  favorite  marigold.  "  Thou  shalt  have  gold  of 
another-guess  ^  sort,"  he  would  cry,  chucking  her  under  the 
chin ;  "  thou  shalt  have  a  string  of  crooked  ducats  for  thy 
wedding  necklace,  my  child."  His  family  began  really  to 
fear  that  the  poor  man's  wits  were  diseased.  He  muttered 
in  his  sleep  at  night  about  mines  of  wealth,  about  pearls  and 
diamonds,  and  bars  of  gold.  In  the  daytime  he  was  moody 
and  abstracted,  and  walked  about  as  if  in  a  trance.  Dame 
Webber  held  frequent  councils  with  all  the  old  women  of 
the  neighborhood;  scarce  an  hour  in  the  day  but  a  knot  of 
them  might  be  seen  wagging  their  white  caps  together  round 
her  door,  while  the  poor  woman  made  some  piteous  recital. 
The  daughter,  too,  was  fain  to  seek  for  more  frequent  con- 
solation from  the  stolen  interviews  of  her  favored  swain. 
Dirk  Waldron.    The  delectable  little  Dutch  songs  with  which 

1  A  corruption  of  the  old  expression  "another-gates,"  or  "of  an- 
other gate,"  meaning  "of  another  way  or  manner"  ;  hence,  "of 
another  kind." 


American  Mystery  Stories 

she  used  to  dulcify  the  house  grew  less  and  less  frequent, 
and  she  would  forget  her  sewing,  and  look  wistfully  in  her 
father's  face  as  he  sat  pondering  by  the  fireside.  Wolfert 
caught  her  eye  one  day  fixed  on  him  thus  anxiously,  and  for 
a.  moment  was  roused  from  his  golden  reveries.  "  Cheer  up, 
my  girl,"  said  he  exultingly ;  '*  why  dost  thou  droop  ?  Thou 
shalt  hold  up  thy  head  one  day  with  the  Brinckerhoffs,  and 
the  Schermerhorns,  the  Van  Homes,  and  the  Van  Dams.^ 
By  St.  Nicholas,  but  the  patroon  -  himself  shall  be  glad  to 
get  thee  for  his  son !  " 

Amy  shook  her  head  at  his  vainglorious  boast,  and  was 
more  than  ever  in  doubt  of  the  soundness  of  the  good  man's 

In  the  meantime  Wolfert  went  on  digging  and  digging; 
but  the  field  was  extensive,  and  as  his  dream  had  indicated 
no  precise  spot,  he  had  to  dig  at  random.  The  winter  set  in 
before  one  tenth  of  the  scene  of  promise  had  been  explored. 

The  ground  became  frozen  hard,  and  the  nights  too  cold 
for  the  labors  of  the  spade. 

No  sooner,  however,  did  the  returning  warmth  of  spring 
loosen  the  soil,  and  the  small  frogs  begin  to  pipe  in  the 
meadows,  but  Wolfert  resumed  his  labors  with  renovated 
zeal.    Still,  however,  the  hours  of  industry  were  reversed. 

Instead  of  working  cheerily  all  day,  planting  and  setting 
out  his  vegetables,  he  remained  thoughtfully  idle,  until  the 
shades  of  night  summoned  him  to  his  secret  labors.  In  this 
way  he  continued  to  dig  from  night  to  night,  and  week  to 
week,  and  month  to  month,  but  not  a  stiver  ^  did  he  find. 
On  the  contrary,  the  more  he  digged  the  poorer  he  grew. 
The  rich  soil  of  his  garden  was  digged  away,  and  the  sand 

1  Names  of  rich  and  influential  Dutch  families  in  the  old  Dutch 
colony  of  New  Amsterdam. 

=>  The  patroons  were  members  of  the  Dutch  West  India  Company, 
who  purchased  land  in  New  Netherlands  of  the  Indians,  and  after 
fulfilling  certain  conditions  imposed  with  a  view  to  colonizing  their 
territory,  enjoyed  feudal  rights  similar  to  those  of  the  barons  of  the 
Middle  Ages. 

3  A  Dutch  coin,  worth  about  two  cents;  hence,  anything  of  little 


Washington  Irving 

and  gravel  from  beneath  was  thrown  to  the  surface,  until 
the  whole  field  presented  an  aspect  of  sandy  barrenness. 

In  the  meantime,  the  seasons  gradually  rolled  on.  The 
little  frogs  which  had  piped  in  the  meadows  in  early  spring 
croaked  as  bullfrogs  during  the  summer  heats,  and  then  sank 
into  silence.  The  peach  tree  budded,  blossomed,  and  bore 
its  fruit.  The  swallows  and  martins  came,  twittered  about 
the  roof,  built  their  nests,  reared  their  young,  held  their 
congress  along  the  eaves,  and  then  winged  their  flight  in 
search  of  another  spring.  The  caterpillar  spun  its  winding 
sheet,  dangled  in  it  from  the  great  buttonwood  tree  before 
the  house,  turned  into  a  moth,  fluttered  with  the  last  sun- 
shine of  summer,  and  disappeared;  and  finally  the  leaves 
of  the  buttonwood  tree  turned  yellow,  then  brown,  then 
rustled  one  by  one  to  the  ground,  and  whirling  about  in 
little  eddies  of  wind  and  dust,  whispered  that  winter  was 
at  hand. 

Wolfert  gradually  woke  from  his  dream  of  wealth  as  the 
year  declined.  He  had  reared  no  crop  for  the  supply  of  his 
household  during  the  sterility  of  winter.  The  season  was 
long  and  severe,  and  for  the  first  time  the  family  was  really 
straitened  in  its  comforts.  By  degrees  a  revulsion  of  thought 
took  place  in  Wolfert's  mind,  common  to  those  whose  golden 
dreams  have  been  disturbed  by  pinching  realities.  The  idea 
gradually  stole  upon  him  that  he  should  come  to  want.  He 
already  considered  himself  one  of  the  most  unfortunate  men 
in  the  province,  having  lost  such  an  incalculable  amount  of 
undiscovered  treasure,  and  now,  when  thousands  of  pounds 
had  eluded  his  search,  to  be  perplexed  for  shillings  and 
pence  was  cruel  in  the  extreme. 

Haggard  care  gathered  about  his  brow;  he  went  about 
with  a  money-seeking  air,  his  eyes  bent  downward  into  the 
dust,  and  carrying  his  hands  in  his  pockets,  as  men  are  apt 
to  do  when  they  have  nothing  else  to  put  into  them.  He 
could  not  even  pass  the  city  almshouse  without  giving  it  a 
rueful  glance,  as  if  destined  to  be  his  future  abode. 

The  strangeness  of  his  conduct  and  of  his  looks  occa- 
sioned much  speculation  and  remark.     For  a  long  time  he 


American  Mystery  Stories 

was  suspected  of  being  crazy,  and  then  everybody  pitied 
him ;  and  at  length  it  began  to  be  suspected  that  he  was  poor, 
and  then  everybody  avoided  him. 

The  rich  old  burghers  of  his  acquaintance  met  him  out- 
side of  the  door  when  he  called,  entertained  him  hospitably 
on  the  threshold,  pressed  him  warmly  by  the  hand  at  part- 
ing, shook  their  heads  as  he  walked  away,  with  the  kind- 
hearted  expression  of  "  poor  Wolfert,"  and  turned  a  corner 
nimbly  if  by  chance  they  saw  him  approaching  as  they 
walked  the  streets.  Even  the  barber  and  the  cobbler  of  the 
neighborhood,  and  a  tattered  tailor  in  an  alley  hard  by,  three 
of  the  poorest  and  merriest  rogues  in  the  world,  eyed  him 
with  that  abundant  sympathy  which  usually  attends  a  lack 
of  means,  and  there  is  not  a  doubt  but  their  pockets  would 
have  been  at  his  command,  only  that  they  happened  to  be 

Thus  everybody  deserted  the  Webber  mansion,  as  if 
poverty  were  contagious,  like  the  plague  —  everybody  but 
honest  Dirk  Waldron,  who  still  kept  up  his  stolen  \'-isits  to 
the  daughter,  and  indeed  seemed  to  wax  more  affectionate 
as  the  fortunes  of  his  mistress  were  on  the  wane. 

Many  months  had  elapsed  since  Wolfert  had  frequented 
his  old  resort,  the  rural  inn.  He  was  taking  a  long,  lonely 
walk  one  Saturday  afternoon,  musing  over  his  wants  and 
disappointments,  when  his  feet  took  instinctively  their 
wonted  direction,  and  on  awaking  out  of  a  reverie,  he  found 
himself  before  the  door  of  the  inn.  For  some  moments  he 
hesitated  whether  to  enter,  but  his  heart  yearned  for  com- 
panionship, and  where  can  a  ruined  man  find  better  compan- 
ionship than  at  a  tavern,  where  there  is  neither  sober  exam- 
ple nor  sober  advice  to  put  him  out  of  countenance  ? 

Wolfert  found  several  of  the  old  frequenters  of  the  inn 
at  their  usual  posts  and  seated  in  their  usual  places ;  but  one 
was  missing,  the  great  Ramm  Rapelye,  who  for  many  years 
had  filled  the  leather-bottomed  chair  of  state.  His  place  was 
supplied  by  a  stranger,  who  seemed,  however,  completely  at 
home  in  the  chair  and  the  tavern.  He  was  rather  under 
size,  but  deep-chested,  square,  and  muscular.     His  broad 

1 80 

IVashington  Irving 

shoulders,  double  joints,  and  bow  knees  gave  tokens  of  pro- 
digious strength.  His  face  was  dark  and  weather-beaten ; 
a  deep  scar,  as  if  from  the  slash  of  a  cutlass,  had  almost 
divided  his  nose,  and  made  a  gash  in  his  upper  lip,  through 
which  his  teeth  shone  like  a  bulldog's.  A  mop  of  iron-gray 
hair  gave  a  grisly  finish  to  this  hard-favored  visage.  His 
dress  was  of  an  amphibious  character.  He  wore  an  old  hat 
edged  with  tarnished  lace,  and  cocked  in  martial  style  on 
one  side  of  his  head ;  a  rusty  ^  blue  military  coat  with  brass 
buttons ;  and  a  wide  pair  of  short  petticoat  trousers, — or 
rather  breeches,  for  they  were  gathered  up  at  the  knees.  He 
ordered  everybody  about  him  with  an  authoritative  air,  talk- 
ing in  a  brattling  ^  voice  that  sounded  like  the  crackling  of 
thorns  under  a  pot,  d — d  the  landlord  and  servants  with 
perfect  impunity,  and  was  waited  upon  with  greater  obse- 
quiousness than  had  ever  been  shown  to  the  mighty  Ramm 

Wolfert's  curiosity  was  awakened  to  know  who  and  what 
was  this  stranger  who  had  thus  usurped  absolute  sway  in 
this  ancient  domain.  Peechy  Prauw  took  him  aside  into  a 
remote  corner  of  the  hall,  and  there,  in  an  under  voice  and 
with  great  caution,  imparted  to  him  all  that  he  knew  on  the 
subject.  The  inn  had  been  aroused  several  months  before, 
on  a  dark,  stormy  night,  by  repeated  long  shouts  that  seemed 
like  the  bowlings  of  a  wolf.  They  came  from  the  water 
side,  and  at  length  were  distinguished  to  be  hailing  the  house 
in  the  seafaring  manner,  "  House  ahoy !  "  The  landlord 
turned  out  with  his  head  waiter,  tapster,  hostler,  and  errand 
boy — that  is  to  say,  with  his  old  negro  Cuff.  On  approach- 
ing the  place  whence  the  voice  proceeded,  they  found  this 
amphibious-looking  personage  at  the  water's  edge,  quite 
alone,  and  seated  on  a  great  oaken  sea  chest.  How  he  came 
there, — whether  he  had  been  set  on  shore  from  some  boat, 
or  had  floated  to  land  on  his  chest, — nobody  could  tell,  for 
he  did  not  seem  disposed  to  answer  questions,  and  there  was 
something  in  his  looks  and  manners  that  put  a  stop  to  all 
questioning.    Suffice  it  to  say,  he  took  possession  of  a  corner 

>  Shabby.  *  Noisy. 


American  Mystery  Stories 

room  of  the  inn,  to  which  his  chest  was  removed  with  great 
difficulty.  Here  he  had  remained  ever  since,  keeping  about 
the  inn  and  its  vicinity.  Sometimes,  it  is  true,  he  disap- 
peared for  one,  two,  or  three  days  at  a  time,  going  and  re- 
turning without  giving  any  notice  or  account  of  his  move- 
ments. He  always  appeared  to  have  plenty  of  money,  though 
often  of  very  strange,  outlandish  coinage,  and  he  regularly 
paid  his  bill  every  evening  before  turning  in. 

He  had  fitted  up  his  room  to  his  own  fancy,  having  slung 
a  hammock  from  the  ceiling  instead  of  a  bed,  and  decorated 
the  walls  with  rusty  pistols  and  cutlasses  of  foreign  work- 
manship. A  greater  part  of  his  time  was  passed  in  this 
room,  seated  by  the  window,  which  commanded  a  wide  view 
of  the  Sound,  a  short,  old-fashioned  pipe  in  his  mouth,  a 
glass  of  rum  toddy  ^  at  his  elbow,  and  a  pocket  telescope  in 
his  hand,  with  which  he  reconnoitered  every  boat  that  moved 
upon  the  water.  Large  square-rigged  vessels  seemed  to  ex- 
cite but  little  attention ;  but  the  moment  he  descried  anything 
with  a  shoulder-of-mutton  ^  sail,  or  that  a  barge  or  yawl  or 
jolly-boat  hove  in  sight,  up  went  the  telescope,  and  he  ex- 
amined it  with  the  most  scrupulous  attention. 

All  this  might  have  passed  without  much  notice,  for  in 
those  times  the  province  was  so  much  the  resort  of  adven- 
turers of  all  characters  and  climes  that  any  oddity  in  dress 
or  behavior  attracted  but  small  attention.  In  a  little  while, 
however,  this  strange  sea  monster,  thus  strangely  cast  upon 
dry  land,  began  to  encroach  upon  the  long  established  cus- 
toms and  customers  of  the  place,  and  to  interfere  in  a  dicta- 
torial manner  in  the  affairs  of  the  ninepin  alley  and  the  bar- 
room, until  in  the  end  he  usurped  an  absolute  command  over 
the  whole  inn.  It  was  all  in  vain  to  attempt  to  withstand  his 
authority.  He  was  not  exactly  quarrelsome,  but  boisterous 
and  peremptory,  like  one  accustomed  to  tyrannize  on  a  quar- 
ter-deck ;  and  there  was  a  dare-devil  ^  air  about  everything 
he  said  and  did  that  inspired  wariness  in  all  bystanders. 
Even  the  half-pay  officer,  so  long  the  hero  of  the  club,  was 

*  A  mixture  of  rum  and  hot  water  sweetened. 
»  Triangular.  '  Reckless. 


Washington  Irving 

soon  silenced  by  him,  and  the  quiet  burghers  stared  with 
wonder  at  seeing  their  inflammable  man  of  war  so  readily 
and  quietly  extinguished. 

And  then  the  tales  that  he  would  tell  were  enough  to 
make  a  peaceable  man's  hair  stand  on  end.  There  was  not 
a  sea  fight,  nor  marauding  nor  freebooting  adventure  that 
had  happened  within  the  last  twenty  years,  but  he  seemed 
perfectly  versed  in  it.  He  delighted  to  talk  of  the  exploits 
of  the  buccaneers  in  the  West  Indies  and  on  the  Spanish 
Main.^  How  his  eyes  would  glisten  as  he  described  the  way- 
laying of  treasure  ships ;  the  desperate  fights,  yardarm  and 
yardarm,^  broadside  and  broadside ;  ^  the  boarding  and  cap- 
turing huge  Spanish  galleons !  With  what  chuckling  relish 
would  he  describe  the  descent  upon  some  rich  Spanish  colony, 
the  rifling  of  a  church,  the  sacking  of  a  convent !  You  would 
have  thought  you  heard  some  gormandizer  dilating  upon  the 
roasting  of  a  savory  goose  at  Michaelmas,*  as  he  described 
the  roasting  of  some  Spanish  don  to  make  him  discover  his 
treasure, — a  detail  given  with  a  minuteness  that  made  every 
rich  old  burgher  present  turn  uncomfortably  in  his  chair. 
All  this  would  be  told  with  infinite  glee,  as  if  he  considered 
it  an  excellent  joke,  and  then  he  would  give  such  a  tyran- 
nical leer  in  the  face  of  his  next  neighbor  that  the  poor  man 
would  be  fain  to  laugh  out  of  sheer  faint-heartedness.  If 
anyone,  however,  pretended  to  contradict  him  in  any  of  his 
stories,  he  was  on  fire  in  an  instant.  His  very  cocked  hat 
assumed  a  momentary  fierceness,  and  seemed  to  resent  the 
contradiction.  "  How  the  devil  should  you  know  as  well 
as  I  ?    I  tell  you  it  was  as  I  say ;  "  and  he  would  at  the  same 

'  The  coast  of  the  northern  part  of  South  America  along  the  Car- 
ibbean Sea,  the  route  formerly  traversed  by  the  Spanish  treasure 
ships  between  the  Old  and  New  Worlds. 

'  Ships  are  said  to  be  yardarm  and  yardarm  when  so  near  as  to 
touch  or  interlock  their  yards,  which  are  the  long  pieces  of  timber 
designed  to  support  and  extend  the  square  sails. 

8  "Broadside  and  broadside,"  i.e.,  with  the  side  of  one  ship  touch- 
ing that  of  another. 

*  The  Feast  of  the  Archangel  Michael,  a  church  festival  celebrated 
on  September  29th. 


American  Mystery  Stories 

time  let  slip  a  broadside  of  thundering  oaths  ^  and  tremen- 
dous sea  phrases,  such  as  had  never  been  heard  before 
within  these  peaceful  walls. 

Indeed,  the  worthy  burghers  began  to  surmise  that  he 
knew  more  of  those  stories  than  mere  hearsay.  Day  after 
day  their  conjectures  concerning  him  grew  more  and  more 
wild  and  fearful.  The  strangeness  of  his  arrival,  the 
strangeness  of  his  manners,  the  mystery  that  surrounded 
him, — all  made  him  something  incomprehensible  in  their 
eyes.  He  was  a  kind  of  monster  of  the  deep  to  them ;  he 
was  a  merman,  he  was  a  behemoth,  he  was  a  leviathan, — in 
short,  they  knew  not  what  he  was. 

The  domineering  spirit  of  this  boisterous  sea  urchin  at 
length  grew  quite  intolerable.  He  was  no  respecter  of  per- 
sons ;  he  contradicted  the  richest  burghers  without  hesita- 
tion ;  he  took  possession  of  the  sacred  elbow  chair,  which 
time  out  of  mind  had  been  the  seat  of  sovereignty  of  the 
illustrious  Ramm  Rapelye.  Nay,  he  even  went  so  far,  in 
one  of  his  rough,  jocular  moods,  as  to  slap  that  mighty 
burgher  on  the  back,  drink  his  toddy,  and  wink  in  his  face, 
— a  thing  scarcely  to  be  believed.  From  this  time  Ramm 
Rapelye  appeared  no  more  at  the  inn.  His  example  was 
followed  by  several  of  the  most  eminent  customers,  who 
were  too  rich  to  tolerate  being  bullied  out  of  their  opinions 
or  being  obliged  to  laugh  at  another  man's  jokes.  The  land- 
lord was  almost  in  despair ;  but  he  knew  not  how  to  get  rid 
of  this  sea  monster  and  his  sea  chest,  who  seemed  both  to 
have  grown  like  fixtures,  or  excrescences,  on  his  establish- 

Such  was  the  account  whispered  cautiously  in  Wolfert's 
ear  by  the  narrator,  Peechy  Prauw,  as  he  held  him  by  the 
button  in  a  corner  of  the  hall,  casting  a  wary  glance  now 
and  then  toward  the  door  of  the  barroom,  lest  he  should 
be  overheard  by  the  terrible  hero  of  his  tale. 

Wolfert  took  his  seat  in  a  remote  part  of  the  room  in 
silence,  impressed  with  profound  awe  of  this  unknown,  so 
versed  in  freebooting  history.     It  was  to  him  a  wonderful 
*  "Broadside  of  thundering  oaths,"  i.e.,  a  volley  of  abuse. 


Washington  Irving 

instance  of  the  revolutions  of  mighty  empires,  to  find  the 
venerable  Ramm  Rapelye  thus  ousted  from  the  throne,  and 
a  rugged  tarpaulin  ^  dictating  from  his  elbow  chair,  hector- 
ing the  patriarchs,  and  filling  this  tranquil  little  realm  with 
brawl  and  bravado. 

The  stranger  was,  on  this  evening,  in  a  more  than  usu- 
ally communicative  mood,  and  was  narrating  a  number  of 
astounding  stories  of  plunderings  and  burnings  on  the  high 
seas.  He  dwelt  upon  them  with  peculiar  relish,  heightening 
the  frightful  particulars  in  proportion  to  their  effect  on  his 
peaceful  auditors.  He  gave  a  swaggering  detail  of  the  cap- 
ture of  a  Spanish  merchantman.  She  was  lying  becalmed 
during  a  long  summer's  day,  just  off  from  the  island  which 
was  one  of  the  lurking  places  of  the  pirates.  They  had 
reconnoitered  her  with  their  spyglasses  from  the  shore,  and 
ascertained  her  character  and  force.  At  night  a  picked  crew 
of  daring  fellows  set  off  for  her  in  a  whaleboat.  They  ap- 
proached with  muffled  oars,  as  she  lay  rocking  idly  with  the 
undulations  of  the  sea,  and  her  sails  flapping  against  the 
masts.  They  were  close  under  the  stern  before  the  guard 
on  deck  was  aware  of  their  approach.  The  alarm  was  given  ; 
the  pirates  threw  hand  grenades  -  on  deck,  and  sprang  up 
the  main  chains,^  sword  in  hand. 

The  crew  flew  to  arms,  but  in  great  confusion ;  some  were 
shot  down,  others  took  refuge  in  the  tops,  others  were  driven 
overboard  and  drowned,  while  others  fought  hand  to  hand 
from  the  main  deck  to  the  quarter-deck,  disputing  gallantly 
every  inch  of  ground.  There  were  three  Spanish  gentlemen 
on  board,  with  their  ladies,  who  made  the  most  desperate 
resistance.     They  defended  the  companion  way,*  cut  down 

1  A  kind  of  canvas  used  about  a  ship;  hence,  a  sailor. 

2  "Hand  grenades,"  i.e.,  small  shells  of  iron  or  glass  filled  with 
gunpowder  and  thrown  by  hand. 

3  "Main  chains,"  i.e.,  strong  bars  of  iron  bolted  at  the  lower  end 
to  the  side  of  a  vessel,  and  secured  at  the  upper  end  to  the  iron 
straps  of  the  blocks  by  which  the  shrouds  supporting  the  masts  are 

*  The  companion  way  is  a  staircase  leading  to  the  cabin  of  a  ship. 


American  Mystery  Stories 

several  of  their  assailants,  and  fought  like  very  devils,  for 
they  were  maddened  by  the  shrieks  of  the  ladies  from  the 
cabin.  One  of  the  dons  was  old,  and  soon  dispatched.  The 
other  two  kept  their  ground  vigorously,  even  though  the 
captain  of  the  pirates  was  among  their  assailants.  Just  then 
there  was  a  shout  of  victory  from  the  main  deck.  "  The 
ship  is  ours !  "  cried  the  pirates. 

One  of  the  dons  immediately  dropped  his  sword  and  sur- 
rendered; the  other,  who  was  a  hot-headed  youngster,  and 
just  married,  gave  the  captain  a  slash  in  the  face  that  laid 
all  open.  The  captain  just  made  out  to  articulate  the  words, 
"  No  quarter." 

"  And  what  did  they  do  with  their  prisoners  ? "  said 
Peechy  Prauw  eagerly. 

"  Threw  them  all  overboard,"  was  the  answer.  A  dead 
pause  followed  the  reply.  Peechy  Prauw  sank  quietly  back, 
like  a  man  who  had  unwarily  stolen  upon  the  lair  of  a  sleep- 
ing lion.  The  honest  burghers  cast  fearful  glances  at  the 
deep  scar  slashed  across  the  visage  of  the  stranger,  and 
moved  their  chairs  a  little  farther  off.  The  seaman,  how- 
ever, smoked  on  without  moving  a  muscle,  as  though  he 
either  did  not  perceive,  or  did  not  regard,  the  unfavorable 
effect  he  had  produced  upon  his  hearers. 

The  half-pay  officer  was  the  first  to  break  the  silence,  for 
he  was  continually  tempted  to  make  ineffectual  head  against 
this  tyrant  of  the  seas,  and  to  regain  his  lost  consequence  in 
the  eyes  of  his  ancient  companions.  He  now  tried  to  match 
the  gunpowder  tales  of  the  stranger  by  others  equally  tre- 
mendous. Kidd,  as  usual,  was  his  hero,  concerning  whom 
he  seemed  to  have  picked  up  many  of  the  floating  traditions 
of  the  province.  The  seaman  had  always  evinced  a  settled 
pique  against  the  one-eyed  warrior.  On  this  occasion  he 
listened  with  peculiar  impatience.  He  sat  with  one  arm 
akimbo,  the  other  elbow  on  the  table,  the  hand  holding  on 
to  the  small  pipe  he  was  pettishly  puffing,  his  legs  crossed, 
drumming  with  one  foot  on  the  ground,  and  casting  every 
now  and  then  the  side  glance  of  a  basilisk  at  the  prosing 
captain.     At  length  the  latter  spoke  of  Kidd's  having  as- 


Washington  Irving 

cended  the  Hudson  with  some  of  his  crew,  to  land  his  plun- 
der in  secrecy. 

"  Kidd  up  the  Hudson !  "  burst  forth  the  seaman,  with  a 
tremendous  oath ;  "  Kidd  never  was  up  the  Hudson !  " 

"  I  tell  you  he  was,"  said  the  other.  "  Aye,  and  they  say 
he  buried  a  quantity  of  treasure  on  the  little  flat  that  runs 
out  into  the  river,  called  the  Devil's  Dans  Kammer."  ^ 

"  The  Devil's  Dans  Kammer  in  your  teeth !  "  -  cried  the 
seaman.  "  I  tell  you  Kidd  never  was  up  the  Hudson.  What 
a  plague  do  you  know  of  Kidd  and  his  haunts  ?  " 

"  What  do  I  know  ?  "  echoed  the  half-pay  officer.  "  Why^ 
I  was  in  London  at  the  time  of  his  trial ;  aye,  and  I  had  the 
pleasure  of  seeing  him  hanged  at  Execution  Dock." 

"  Then,  sir,  let  me  tell  you  that  you  saw  as  pretty  a  fellow 
hanged  as  ever  trod  shoe  leather.  Aye !  "  putting  his  face 
nearer  to  that  of  the  officer,  "  and  there  was  many  a  land- 
lubber ^  looked  on  that  might  much  better  have  swung  in 
his  stead." 

The  half-pay  officer  was  silenced ;  but  the  indignation  thus 
pent  up  in  his  bosom  glowed  with  intense  vehemence  in  his 
single  eye,  which  kindled  like  a  coal. 

Peechy  Prauw,  who  never  could  remain  silent,  observed 
that  the  gentleman  certainly  was  in  the  right.  Kidd  never 
did  bury  money  up  the  Hudson,  nor  indeed  in  any  of  those 
parts,  though  many  affirmed  such  to  be  the  fact.  It  was 
Bradish  *  and  others  of  the  buccaneers  who  had  buried 

1  A  huge,  flat  rock,  projecting  into  the  Hudson  River  above  the 

s  "  In  your  teeth,"  a  phrase  to  denote  direct  opposition  or  defiance. 

» A  term  of  contempt  used  by  seamen  for  those  who  pass  their 
lives  on  land. 

*  Bradish  was  a  pirate  whose  actions  were  blended  in  the  popular 
mind  with  those  of  Kidd.  He  was  boatswain  of  a  ship  which  sailed 
from  England  in  1697,  and  which,  like  Kidd's,  bore  the  name  of  the 
Adventure.  In  the  absence  of  the  captain  on  shore,  he  seized  the 
ship  and  set  out  on  a  piratical  cruise.  After  amassing  a  fortune, 
he  sailed  for  America  and  deposited  a  large  amount  of  his  wealth 
with  a  confederate  on  Long  Island.  He  was  apprehended  in  Rhode 
Island,  sent  to  England,  and  executed. 

American  Mystery  Stories 

money,  some  said  in  Turtle  Bay/  others  on  Long  Island, 
others  in  the  neighborhood  of  Hell  Gate.  "  Indeed,"  added 
he,  "  I  recollect  an  adventure  of  Sam,  the  negro  fisherman, 
many  years  ago,  which  some  think  had  something  to  do  with 
the  buccaneers.  As  we  are  all  friends  here,  and  as  it  will 
go  no  further,  I'll  tell  it  to  you. 

"  Upon  a  dark  night  many  years  ago,  as  Black  Sam  was 
returning  from  fishing  in  Hell  Gate " 

Here  the  story  was  nipped  in  the  bud  by  a  sudden  move- 
ment from  the  unknown,  who,  laying  his  iron  fist  on  the 
table,  knuckles  downward,  with  a  quiet  force  that  indented 
the  very  boards,  and  looking  grimly  over  his  shoulder,  with 
the  grin  of  an  angry  bear, — "  Hearkee,  neighbor,"  said  he, 
with  significant  nodding  of  the  head,  "  you'd  better  let  the 
buccaneers  and  their  money  alone ;  they're  not  for  old  men 
and  old  women  to  meddle  with.  They  fought  hard  for  their 
money — they  gave  body  and  soul  for  it ;  and  wherever  it 
lies  buried,  depend  upon  it  he  must  have  a  tug  with  the  devil 
who  gets  it !  " 

This  sudden  explosion  was  succeeded  by  a  blank  silence 
throughout  the  room.  Peechy  Prauw  shrunk  within  him- 
self, and  even  the  one-eyed  ofl[icer  turned  pale.  Wolfert, 
who  from  a  dark  corner  of  the  room  had  listened  with  in- 
tense eagerness  to  all  this  talk  about  buried  treasure,  looked 
with  mingled  awe  and  reverence  at  this  bold  buccaneer,  for 
such  he  really  suspected  him  to  be.  There  was  a  chinking 
of  gold  and  a  sparkling  of  jewels  in  all  his  stories  about 
the  Spanish  Main  that  gave  a  value  to  every  period,  and 
Wolfert  would  have  given  anything  for  the  rummaging  of 
the  ponderous  sea  chest,  which  his  imagination  crammed 
full  of  golden  chalices,  crucifixes,  and  jolly  round  bags  of 

The  dead  stillness  that  had  fallen  upon  the  company  w'as 
at  length  interrupted  by  the  stranger,  who  pulled  out  a  pro- 
digious watch  of  curious  and  ancient  workmanship,  and 
which  in  Wolfert's  eyes  had  a  decidedly  Spanish  look.     On 

>  A  small  cove  in  the  East  River  two  miles  north  of  Corlear's 

1 88 

Washington  Irving 

touching  a  spring,  it  struck  ten  o'clock,  upon  which  the  sailor 
called  for  his  reckoning,  and  having  paid  it  out  of  a  handful 
of  outlandish  coin,  he  drank  off  the  remainder  of  his  bever- 
age, and  without  taking  leave  of  anyone,  rolled  out  of  the 
room,  muttering  to  himself  as  he  stamped  upstairs  to  his 

It  was  some  time  before  the  company  could  recover  from 
the  silence  into  which  they  had  been  thrown.  The  very  foot- 
steps of  the  stranger,  which  were  heard  now  and  then  as 
he  traversed  his  chamber,  inspired  awe. 

Still  the  conversation  in  which  they  had  been  engaged  was 
too  interesting  not  to  be  resumed.  A  heavy  thunder  gust 
had  gathered  up  unnoticed  while  they  were  lost  in  talk,  and 
the  torrents  of  rain  that  fell  forbade  all  thoughts  of  setting 
off  for  home  until  the  storm  should  subside.  They  drew 
nearer  together,  therefore,  and  entreated  the  worthy  Peechy 
Prauw  to  continue  the  tale  which  had  been  so  discourteously 
interrupted.  He  readily  complied,  whispering,  however,  in 
a  tone  scarcely  above  his  breath,  and  drowned  occasionally 
by  the  rolling  of  the  thunder ;  and  he  would  pause  every 
now  and  then  and  listen,  with  evident  awe,  as  he  heard  the 
heavy  footsteps  of  the  stranger  pacing  overhead.  The  fol- 
lowing is  the  purport  of  his  story : 

Adventure  of  the  Black  Fisherman 

Everybody  knows  Black  Sam,  the  old  negro  fisherman, 
or,  as  he  is  commonly  called,  "  Mud  Sam,"  who  has  fished 
about  the  Sound  for  the  last  half  century.  It  is  now  many 
years  since  Sam,  who  was  then  as  active  a  young  negro 
as  any  in  the  province,  and  worked  on  the  farm  of  Killian 
Suydam  on  Long  Island,  having  finished  his  day's  work 
at  an  early  hour,  was  fishing,  one  still  summer  evening, 
just  about  the  neighborhood  of  Hell  Gate. 

He  was  in  a  light  skiff,  and  being  well  acquainted  with 
the  currents  and  eddies,  had  shifted  his  station,  according 


American  Mystery  Stories 

to  the  shifting  of  the  tide,  from  the  Hen  and  Chickens  to  the 
Hog's  Back,  from  the  Hog's  Back  to  the  Pot,  and  from  the 
Pot  to  the  Frying  Pan;  but  in  the  eagerness  of  his  sport 
he  did  not  see  that  the  tide  was  rapidly  ebbing,  until  the 
roaring  of  the  whirlpools  and  eddies  warned  him  of  his  dan- 
ger, and  he  had  some  difficulty  in  shooting  his  skiff  from 
among  the  rocks  and  breakers,  and  getting  to  the  point  of 
Blackwell's  Island.^  Here  he  cast  anchor  for  some  time, 
waiting  the  turn  of  the  tide  to  enable  him  to  return  home- 
ward. As  the  night  set  in,  it  grew  blustering  and  gusty. 
Dark  clouds  came  bundling  up  in  the  west,  and  now  and 
then  a  growl  of  thunder  or  a  flash  of  lightning  told  that  a 
summer  storm  was  at  hand.  Sam  pulled  over,  therefore, 
under  the  lee  of  Manhattan  Island,  and,  coasting  along,  came 
to  a  snug  nook,  just  under  a  steep,  beetling  rock,  where  he 
fastened  his  skiff  to  the  root  of  a  tree  that  shot  out  from  a 
cleft,  and  spread  its  broad  branches  like  a  canopy  over  tha 
water.  The  gust  came  scouring  along,  the  wind  threw  up 
the  river  in  white  surges,  the  rain  rattled  among  the  leaves, 
the  thunder  bellowed  worse  than  that  which  is  now  bel- 
lowing, the  lightning  seemed  to  lick  up  the  surges  of  the 
stream ;  but  Sam,  snugly  sheltered  under  rock  and  tree,  lay 
crouching  in  his  skiff,  rocking  upon  the  billows  until  he  fell 

When  he  woke  all  was  quiet.  The  gust  had  passed  away, 
and  only  now  and  then  a  faint  gleam  of  lightning  in  the 
east  showed  which  way  it  had  gone.  The  night  was  dark 
and  moonless,  and  from  the  state  of  the  tide  Sam  concluded 
it  was  near  midnight.  He  was  on  the  point  of  making  loose 
his  skiff  to  return  homeward  when  he  saw  a  light  gleaming 
along  the  water  from  a  distance,  which  seemed  rapidly  ap- 
proaching. As  it  drew  near  he  perceived  it  came  from  a 
lantern  in  the  bow  of  a  boat  gliding  along  under  shadow  of 
the  land.  It  pulled  up  in  a  small  cove  close  to  where  he 
was.  A  man  jumped  on  shore,  and  searching  about  with 
the  lantern,  exclaimed,  "  This  is  the  place — here's  the  iron 

»  A  long,  narrow  island  in  the  East  River,  between  New  York  and 
Long  Island  City. 


Washington  Irving 

ring,"  The  boat  was  then  made  fast,  and  the  man,  return- 
ing on  board,  assisted  his  comrades  in  conveying  something 
heavy  on  shore.  As  the  light  gleamed  among  them,  Sam 
saw  that  they  were  five  stout,  desperate-looking  fellows,  in 
red  woolen  caps,  with  a  leader  in  a  three-cornered  hat,  and 
that  some  of  them  were  armed  with  dirks,  or  long  knives,  and 
pistols.  They  talked  low  to  one  another,  and  occasionally 
in  some  outlandish  tongue  which  he  could  not  understand. 

On  landing  they  made  their  way  among  the  bushes,  taking 
turns  to  relieve  each  other  in  lugging  their  burden  up  the 
rocky  bank.  Sam's  curiosity  was  now  fully  aroused,  so 
leaving  his  skiff  he  clambered  silently  up  a  ridge  that  over- 
looked their  path.  They  had  stopped  to  rest  for  a  moment^ 
and  the  leader  was  looking  about  among  the  bushes  with  his 
lantern.  "  Have  you  brought  the  spades  ?  "  said  one.  "  They 
are  here,"  replied  another,  who  had  them  on  his  shoulder, 
"  We  must  dig  deep,  where  there  will  be  no  risk  of  dis- 
covery," said  a  third. 

A  cold  chill  ran  through  Sam's  veins.  He  fancied  he  saw 
before  him  a  gang  of  murderers,  about  to  bury  their  victim. 
His  knees  smote  together.  In  his  agitation  he  shook  the 
branch  of  a  tree  with  which  he  was  supporting  himself  as 
he  looked  over  the  edge  of  the  clifif. 

"  What's  that?  "  cried  one  of  the  gang.  "  Some  one  stirs 
among  the  bushes !  " 

The  lantern  was  held  up  in  the  direction  of  the  noise. 
One  of  the  red-caps  cocked  a  pistol,  and  pointed  it  toward 
the  very  place  where  Sam  was  standing.  He  stood  motion- 
less, breathless,  expecting  the  next  moment  to  be  his  last. 
Fortunately  his  dingy  complexion  was  in  his  favor,  and 
made  no  glare  among  the  leaves. 

"  'Tis  no  one,"  said  the  man  with  the  lantern.  "  What  a 
plague !  you  would  not  fire  ofif  your  pistol  and  alarm  the 
country !  " 

The  pistol  was  uncocked,  the  burden  was  resumed,  and 
the  party  slowly  toiled  along  the  bank.  Sam  watched  them 
as  they  went,  the  light  sending  back  fitful  gleams  through 
the  dripping  bushes,  and  it  was  not  till  they  were  fairly  out 


American  Mystery  Stories 

of  sight  that  he  ventured  to  draw  breath  freely.  He  now 
thought  of  getting  back  to  his  boat,  and  making  his  escape 
out  of  the  reach  of  such  dangerous  neighbors ;  but  curiosity 
was  all-powerful.  He  hesitated,  and  lingered,  and  listened. 
By  and  by  he  heard  the  strokes  of  spades.  "  They  are  dig- 
ging the  grave !  "  said  he  to  himself,  and  the  cold  sweat 
started  upon  his  forehead.  Every  stroke  of  a  spade,  as  it 
sounded  through  the  silent  groves,  went  to  his  heart.  It 
was  evident  there  was  as  little  noise  made  as  possible  ;  every- 
thing had  an  air  of  terrible  mystery  and  secrecy.  Sam  had 
a  great  relish  for  the  horrible ;  a  tale  of  murder  was  a  treat 
for  him,  and  he  was  a  constant  attendant  at  executions.  He 
could  not  resist  an  impulse,  in  spite  of  every  danger,  to  steal 
nearer  to  the  scene  of  mystery,  and  overlook  the  midnight 
fellows  at  their  work.  He  crawled  along  cautiously,  there- 
fore, inch  by  inch,  stepping  with  the  utmost  care  among  the 
dry  leaves,  lest  their  rustling  should  betray  him.  He  came 
at  length  to  where  a  steep  rock  intervened  between  him  and 
the  gang,  for  he  saw  the  light  of  their  lantern  shining  up 
against  the  branches  of  the  trees  on  the  other  side.  Sam 
slowly  and  silently  clambered  up  the  surface  of  the  rock, 
and  raising  his  head  above  its  naked  edge,  beheld  the  vil- 
lains immediately  below  him,  and  so  near  that  though  he 
dreaded  discovery  he  dared  not  withdraw  lest  the  least  move- 
ment should  be  heard.  In  this  way  he  remained,  with  his 
round  black  face  peering  above  the  edge  of  the  rock,  like 
the  sun  just  emerging  above  the  edge  of  the  horizon,  or  the 
round-cheeked  moon  on  the  dial  of  a  clock. 

The  red-caps  had  nearly  finished  their  work,  the  grave 
was  filled  up,  and  they  were  carefully  replacing  the  turf. 
This  done  they  scattered  dry  leaves  over  the  place.  "  And 
now,"  said  the  leader,  "  I  defy  the  devil  himself  to  find  it 

"  The  murderers !  "  exclaimed  Sam  involuntarily. 
The  whole  gang  started,  and  looking  up  beheld  the  round 
black  head  of  Sam  just  above  them,  his  white  eyes  strained 
half  out  of  their  orbits,  his  white  teeth  chattering,  and  his 
whole  visage  shining  with  cold  perspiration. 


Washington  Irving 

"  We're  discovered  !  "  cried  one. 

"Down  with  him!"  cried  another. 

Sam  heard  the  cocking  of  a  pistol,  but  did  not  pause  for 
the  report.  He  scrambled  over  rock  and  stone,  through 
brush  and  brier,  rolled  down  banks  like  a  hedgehog,  scram- 
bled up  others  like  a  catamount.  In  every  direction  he  heard 
some  one  or  other  of  the  gang  hemming  him  in.  At  length 
he  reached  the  rocky  ridge  along  the  river ;  one  of  the  red- 
caps was  hard  behind  him.  A  steep  rock  like  a  wall  rose 
directly  in  his  way ;  it  seemed  to  cut  off  all  retreat,  when 
fortunately  he  espied  the  strong,  cord-like  branch  of  a  grape- 
vine reaching  half  way  down  it.  He  sprang  at  it  with  the 
force  of  a  desperate  man,  seized  it  with  both  hands,  and, 
being  young  and  agile,  succeeded  in  swinging  himself  to  the 
summit  of  the  cliff.  Here  he  stood  in  full  relief  against  the 
sky,  when  the  red-cap  cocked  his  pistol  and  fired.  The  ball 
whistled  by  Sam's  head.  With  the  lucky  thought  of  a  man 
in  an  emergency,  he  uttered  a  yell,  fell  to  the  ground,  and 
detached  at  the  same  time  a  fragment  of  the  rock,  which 
tumbled  with  a  loud  splash  into  the  river. 

"  I've  done  his  business,"  said  the  red-cap  to  one  or  two 
of  his  comrades  as  they  arrived  panting.  "  He'll  tell  no 
tales,  except  to  the  fishes  in  the  river." 

His  pursuers  now  turned  to  meet  their  companions.  Sam, 
sliding  silently  down  the  surface  of  the  rock,  let  himself 
quietly  into  his  skiff,  cast  loose  the  fastening,  and  abandoned 
himself  to  the  rapid  current,  which  in  that  place  runs  like  a 
mill  stream,  and  soon  swept  him  off  from  the  neighborhood. 
It  was  not,  however,  until  he  had  drifted  a  great  distance 
that  he  ventured  to  ply  his  oars,  when  he  made  his  skiff  dart 
like  an  arrow  through  the  strait  of  Hell  Gate,  never  heeding 
the  danger  of  Pot,  Frying  Pan,  nor  Hog's  Back  itself,  nor 
did  he  feel  himself  thoroughly  secure  until  safely  nestled  in 
bed  in  the  cockloft  of  the  ancient  farmhouse  of  the  Suydams. 

Here  the  worthy  Peechy  Prauw  paused  to  take  breath, 
and  to  take  a  sip  of  the  gossip  tankard  that  stood  at  his 
elbow.     His  auditors  remained  with  open  mouths  and  out- 


American  Mystery  Stories 

stretched  necks,  gaping  like  a  nest  of  swallows  for  an  addi- 
tional mouthful. 

"  And  is  that  all  ?  "  exclaimed  the  half-pay  officer. 

"  That's  all  that  belongs  to  the  story,"  said  Peechy  Prauw. 

"  And  did  Sam  never  find  out  what  was  buried  by  the  red- 
caps ?  "  said  Wolfert  eagerly,  w^hose  mind  was  haunted  by 
nothing  but  ingots  and  doubloons. 

"  Not  that  I  know  of,"  said  Peechy ;  "  he  had  no  time  to 
spare  from  his  work,  and,  to  tell  the  truth,  he  did  not  like  to 
run  the  risk  of  another  race  among  the  rocks.  Besides,  how 
should  he  recollect  the  spot  where  the  grave  had  been 
digged?  everything  would  look  so  different  by  daylight. 
And  then,  where  was  the  use  of  looking  for  a  dead  body 
when  there  was  no  chance  of  hanging  the  murderers  ?  " 

"  Aye,  but  are  you  sure  it  was  a  dead  body  they  buried  ?  '* 
said  Wolfert. 

"  To  be  sure,"  cried  Peechy  Prauw  exultingly.  "  Does  it 
not  haunt  in  the  neighborhood  to  this  very  day  ?  " 

"  Haunts !  "  exclaimed  several  of  the  party,  opening  their 
eyes  still  wider,  and  edging  their  chairs  still  closer. 

"  Aye,  haunts,"  repeated  Peechy ;  "  have  none  of  you 
heard  of  Father  Red-cap,  who  haunts  the  old  burned  farm- 
house in  the  woods,  on  the  border  of  the  Sound,  near  Hell 

"  Oh,  to  be  sure,  I've  heard  tell  of  something  of  the  kind, 
but  then  I  took  it  for  some  old  wives'  fable." 

"  Old  wives'  fable  or  not,"  said  Peechy  Prauw,  "  that 
farmhouse  stands  hard  by  the  very  spot.  It's  been  unoccu- 
pied time  out  of  mind,  and  stands  in  a  lonely  part  of  the 
coast,  but  those  who  fish  in  the  neighborhood  have  often 
heard  strange  noises  there,  and  lights  have  been  seen  about 
the  wood  at  night,  and  an  old  fellow  in  a  red  cap  has  been 
seen  at  the  windows  more  than  once,  which  people  take  to 
be  the  ghost  of  the  body  buried  there.  Once  upon  a  time 
three  soldiers  took  shelter  in  the  building  for  the  night,  and 
rummaged  it  from  top  to  bottom,  when  they  found  old 
Father  Red-cap  astride  of  a  cider  barrel  in  the  cellar,  with 
a  jug  in  one  hand  and  a  goblet  in  the  other.     He  offered 


Washington  Irving 

them  a  drink  out  of  his  goblet,  but  just  as  one  of  the  soldiers 
was  putting  it  to  his  mouth — whew ! — a  flash  of  fire  blazed 
through  the  cellar,  blinded  every  mother's  son  of  them  for 
several  minutes,  and  when  they  recovered  their  eyesight,  jug, 
goblet,  and  Red-cap  had  vanished,  and  nothing  but  the 
empty  cider  barrel  remained." 

Here  the  half-pay  officer,  who  was  growing  very  muzzy 
and  sleepy,  and  nodding  over  his  Hquor,  with  half-extin- 
guished eye,  suddenly  gleamed  up  like  an  expiring  rush- 

"  That's  all  fudge ! "  said  he,  as  Peechy  finished  his  last 

"  Well,  I  don't  vouch  for  the  truth  of  it  myself,"  said 
Peechy  Prauw,  *'  though  all  the  world  knows  that  there's 
something  strange  about  that  house  and  grounds ;  but  as  to 
the  story  of  Mud  Sam,  I  believe  it  just  as  well  as  if  it  had 
happened  to  myself." 

The  deep  interest  taken  in  this  conversation  by  the  com- 
pany had  made  them  unconscious  of  the  uproar  abroad 
among  the  elements,  when  suddenly  they  were  electrified  by 
a  tremendous  clap  of  thunder.  A  lumbering  crash  followed 
instantaneously,  shaking  the  building  to  its  very  foundation. 
All  started  from  their  seats,  imagining  it  the  shock  of  an 
earthquake,  or  that  old  Father  Red-cap  was  coming  among 
them  in  all  his  terrors.  They  listened  for  a  moment,  but 
only  heard  the  rain  pelting  against  the  windows  and  the 
wind  howling  among  the  trees.  The  explosion  was  soon 
explained  by  the  apparition  of  an  old  negro's  bald  head 
thrust  in  at  the  door,  his  white  goggle  eyes  contrasting  with 
his  jetty  poll,  which  was  wet  with  rain,  and  shone  like  a 
bottle.  In  a  jargon  but  half  intelligible  he  announced  that 
the  kitchen  chimney  had  been  struck  with  lightning. 

A  sullen  pause  of  the  storm,  which  now  rose  and  sank  in 
gusts,  produced  a  momentary  stillness.  In  this  interval  the 
report  of  a  musket  was  heard,  and  a  long  shout,  almost  like 
a  yell,  resounded  from  the  shores.  Everyone  crowded  to 
the  window;  another  musket  shot  was  heard,  and  another 


American  Mystery  Stories 

long  shout,  mingled  wildly  with  a  rising  blast  of  wind.  It 
seemed  as  if  the  cry  came  up  from  the  bosom  of  the  waters, 
for  though  incessant  flashes  of  lightning  spread  a  light  about 
the  shore,  no  one  was  to  be  seen. 

Suddenly  the  window  of  the  room  overhead  was  opened, 
and  a  loud  halloo  uttered  by  the  mysterious  stranger.  Sev- 
eral bailings  passed  from  one  party  to  the  other,  but  in  a 
language  which  none  of  the  company  in  the  barroom  could 
understand,  and  presently  they  heard  the  window  closed,  and 
a  great  noise  overhead,  as  if  all  the  furniture  were  pulled 
and  hauled  about  the  room.  The  negro  servant  was  sum- 
moned, and  shortly  afterwards  was  seen  assisting  the  veteran 
to  lug  the  ponderous  sea  chest  downstairs. 

The  landlord  was  in  amazement.  "  What,  you  are  not 
going  on  the  water  in  such  a  storm  ?  " 

"  Storm !  "  said  the  other  scornfully,  "  do  you  call  such 
a  sputter  of  weather  a  storm  ?  " 

"  You'll  get  drenched  to  the  skin ;  you'll  catch  your 
death !  "  said  Peechy  Prauw  affectionately. 

*'  Thunder  and  lightning!  "  exclaimed  the  veteran ;  "  don't 
preach  about  weather  to  a  man  that  has  cruised  in  whirl- 
winds and  tornadoes." 

The  obsequious  Peechy  was  again  struck  dumb.  The 
voice  from  the  water  was  heard  once  more  in  a  tone  of  im- 
patience ;  the  bystanders  stared  with  redoubled  awe  at  this 
man  of  storms,  who  seemed  to  have  come  up  out  of  the  deep, 
and  to  be  summoned  back  to  it  again.  As,  with  the  assist- 
ance of  the  negro,  he  slowly  bore  his  ponderous  sea  chest 
toward  the  shore,  they  eyed  it  with  a  superstitious  feeling, 
half  doubting  whether  he  were  not  really  about  to  embark 
upon  it  and  launch  forth  upon  the  wild  waves.  They  fol- 
lowed him  at  a  distance  with  a  lantern. 

"  Dowse  ^  the  light !  "  roared  the  hoarse  voice  from  the 
water.    "  No  one  wants  light  here !  " 

"  Thunder  and  lightning !  "  exclaimed  the  veteran,  turn- 
ing short  upon  them ;  "  back  to  the  house  with  you !  " 

Wolfert  and  his  companions  shrank  back  in  dismay.    Still 

>  Extinguish. 

Washington  Irving 

their  curiosity  would  not  allow  them  entirely  to  withdraw. 
A  long  sheet  of  lightning  now  flickered  across  the  waves, 
and  discovered  a  boat,  filled  with  men,  just  under  a  rocky 
point,  rising  and  sinking  with  the  heaving  surges,  and  swash- 
ing the  waters  at  every  heave.  It  was  with  difficulty  held 
to  the  rocks  by  a  boat  hook,  for  the  current  rushed  furiously 
round  the  point.  The  veteran  hoisted  one  end  of  the  lum- 
bering sea  chest  on  the  gunwale  of  the  boat,  and  seized  the 
handle  at  the  other  end  to  lift  it  in,  when  the  motion  propelled 
the  boat  from  the  shore,  the  chest  slipped  off  from  the  gun- 
wale, and,  sinking  into  the  waves,  pulled  the  veteran  head- 
long after  it.  A  loud  shriek  was  uttered  by  all  on  shore,  and 
a  volley  of  execrations  by  those  on  board,  but  boat  and  man 
were  hurried  away  by  the  rushing  swiftness  of  the  tide.  A 
pitchy  darkness  succeeded.  Wolfert  Webber,  indeed,  fancied 
that  he  distinguished  a  cry  for  help,  and  that  he  beheld  the 
drowning  man  beckoning  for  assistance ;  but  when  the  light- 
ning again  gleamed  along  the  water  all  was  void ;  neither 
man  nor  boat  was  to  be  seen, — nothing  but  the  dashing  and 
weltering  of  the  waves  as  they  hurried  past. 

The  company  returned  to  the  tavern  to  await  the  subsiding 
of  the  storm.  They  resumed  their  seats  and  gazed  on  each 
other  with  dismay.  The  whole  transaction  had  not  occupied 
five  minutes,  and  not  a  dozen  words  had  been  spoken.  When 
they  looked  at  the  oaken  chair  they  could  scarcely  realize 
the  fact  that  the  strange  being  who  had  so  lately  tenanted 
it,  full  of  life  and  Herculean  vigor,  should  already  be  a 
corpse.  There  was  the  very  glass  he  had  just  drunk  from ; 
there  lay  the  ashes  from  the  pipe  which  he  had  smoked,  as 
it  were,  with  his  last  breath.  As  the  worthy  burghers  pon- 
dered on  these  things,  they  felt  a  terrible  conviction  of  the 
vincertainty  of  existence,  and  each  felt  as  if  the  ground  on 
which  he  stood  was  rendered  less  stable  by  his  awful  ex- 

As,  however,  the  most  of  the  company  were  possessed  of 
that  valuable  philosophy  which  enables  a  man  to  bear  up 
with  fortitude  against  the  misfortunes  of  his  neighbors,  they 
soon  managed  to  console  themselves  for  the  tragic  end  of 


American  Mystery  Stories 

the  veteran.  The  landlord  was  particularly  happy  that  the 
poor  dear  man  had  paid  his  reckoning  before  he  went,  and 
made  a  kind  of  farewell  speech  on  the  occasion. 

"  He  came,"  said  he,  "  in  a  storm,  and  he  went  in  a 
storm;  he  came  in  the  night,  and  he  went  in  the  night;  he 
came  nobody  knows  whence,  and  he  has  gone  nobody  knows 
where.  For  aught  I  know  he  has  gone  to  sea  once  more 
on  his  chest,  and  may  land  to  bother  some  people  on  the 
other  side  of  the  world ;  though  it's  a  thousand  pities,"  added 
he,  "  if  he  has  gone  to  Davy  Jones's  ^  locker,  that  he  had 
not  left  his  own  locker  ^  behind  him." 

"  His  locker !  St.  Nicholas  preserve  us !  "  cried  Peechy 
Prauw.  "  I'd  not  have  had  that  sea  chest  in  the  house  for 
any  money;  I'll  warrant  he'd  come  racketing  after  it  at 
nights,  and  making  a  haunted  house  of  the  inn.  And  as 
to  his  going  to  sea  in  his  chest,  I  recollect  what  happened 
to  Skipper  Onderdonk's  ship  on  his  voyage  from  Amster- 

"  The  boatswain  died  during  a  storm,  so  they  wrapped 
him  up  in  a  sheet,  and  put  him  in  his  own  sea  chest,  and 
threw  him  overboard ;  but  they  neglected,  in  their  hurry- 
skurry,  to  say  prayers  over  him,  and  the  storm  raged  and 
roared  louder  than  ever,  and  they  saw  the  dead  man  seated 
in  his  chest,  with  his  shroud  for  a  sail,  coming  hard  after 
the  ship,  and  the  sea  breaking  before  him  in  great  sprays 
like  fire;  and  there  they  kept  scudding  day  after  day  and 
night  after  night,  expecting  every  moment  to  go  to  wreck; 
and  every  night  they  saw  the  dead  boatswain  in  his  sea 
chest  trying  to  get  up  with  them,  and  they  heard  his  whistle 
above  the  blasts  of  wind,  and  he  seemed  to  send  great  seas, 
mountain  high,  after  them  that  would  have  swamped  the 
ship  if  they  had  not  put  up  the  deadlights.  And  so  it  went 
on  till  they  lost  sight  of  him  in  the  fogs  oflf  Newfoundland, 
and  supposed  he  had  veered  ship  and  stood  for  Dead  Man's 

*  Davy  Jones  is  the  spirit  of  the  sea,  or  the  sea  devil,  and  Davy 
Jones's  locker  is  the  bottom  of  the  ocean;  hence,  "gone  to  Davy 
Jones's  locker"  signifies  "dead  and  buried  in  the  sea." 

» Cbcst. 


Washington  Irving 

Isle.^  So  much  for  burying  a  man  at  sea  without  saying 
prayers  over  him." 

The  thunder  gust  which  had  hitherto  detained  the  com- 
pany was  now  at  an  end.  The  cuckoo  clock  in  the  hall  told 
midnight ;  everyone  pressed  to  depart,  for  seldom  was  such 
a  late  hour  of  the  night  trespassed  on  by  these  quiet  burghers. 
As  they  sallied  forth  they  found  the  heavens  once  more  se- 
rene. The  storm  which  had  lately  obscured  them  had  rolled 
away,  and  lay  piled  up  in  fleecy  masses  on  the  horizon, 
lighted  up  by  the  bright  crescent  of  the  moon,  which  looked 
like  a  little  silver  lamp  hung  up  in  a  palace  of  clouds. 

The  dismal  occurrence  of  the  night,  and  the  dismal  nar- 
rations they  had  made,  had  left  a  superstitious  feeling  in 
every  mind.  They  cast  a  fearful  glance  at  the  spot  where 
the  buccaneer  had  disappeared,  almost  expecting  to  see  him 
sailing  on  his  chest  in  the  cool  moonshine.  The  trembling 
rays  glittered  along  the  waters,  but  all  was  placid,  and  the 
current  dimpled  over  the  spot  where  he  had  gone  down. 
The  party  huddled  together  in  a  little  crowd  as  they  repaired 
homeward,  particularly  when  they  passed  a  lonely  field 
where  a  man  had  been  murdered,  and  even  the  sexton,  who 
had  to  complete  his  journey  alone,  though  accustomed,  one 
would  think,  to  ghosts  and  goblins,  went  a  long  way  round 
rather  than  pass  by  his  own  churchyard. 

Wolfert  Webber  had  now  carried  home  a  fresh  stock  of 
stories  and  notions  to  ruminate  upon.  These  accounts  of 
pots  of  money  and  Spanish  treasures,  buried  here  and  there 
and  everywhere  about  the  rocks  and  bays  of  these  wild 
shores,  made  him  almost  dizzy.  "  Blessed  St.  Nicholas !  " 
ejaculated  he,  half  aloud,  "  is  it  not  possible  to  come  upon 
one  of  these  golden  hoards,  and  to  make  oneself  rich  in 
a  twinkling?  How  hard  that  I  must  go  on,  delving  and 
delving,  day  in  and  day  out,  merely  to  make  a  morsel  of 
bread,  when  one  lucky  stroke  of  a  spade  might  enable  me 
to  ride  in  my  carriage  for  the  rest  of  my  life !  " 

As  he  turned  over  in  his  thoughts  all  that  had  been  told 

>  Probably  Deadman's  Point,  a  small  island  near  Deadman'g 
Bay,  off  the  eastern  coast  of  Newfoundland. 


American  Mystery  Stories 

of  the  singular  adventure  of  the  negro  fisherman,  his  im- 
agination gave  a  totally  dififerent  complexion  ^  to  the  tale. 
He  saw  in  the  gang  of  red-caps  nothing  but  a  crew  of 
pirates  burying  their  spoils,  and  his  cupidity  was  once  more 
awakened  by  the  possibility  of  at  length  getting  on  the 
traces  of  some  of  this  lurking  wealth.  Indeed,  his  infected 
fancy  tinged  everything  with  gold.  He  felt  like  the  greedy 
inhabitant  of  Bagdad  when  his  eyes  had  been  greased  with 
the  magic  ointment  of  the  dervish,  that  gave  him  to  see 
all  the  treasures  of  the  earth,^  Caskets  of  buried  jewels, 
chests  of  ingots,  and  barrels  of  outlandish  coins  seemed  to 
court  him  from  their  concealments,  and  supplicate  him  to 
relieve  them  from  their  untimely  graves. 

On  making  private  inquiries  about  the  grounds  said  to 
be  haunted  by  Feather  Red-cap,  he  was  more  and  more 
confirmed  in  his  surmise.  He  learned  that  the  place 
had  several  times  been  visited  by  experienced  money  dig- 
gers who  had  heard  Black  Sam's  story,  though  none  of 
them  had  met  with  success.  On  the  contrary,  they  had 
always  been  dogged  with  ill  luck  of  some  kind  or  other,  in 
consequence,  as  Wolfert  concluded,  of  not  going  to  work 
at  the  proper  time  and  with  the  proper  ceremonials.  The 
last  attempt  had  been  made  by  Cobus  Quackenbos,  who 
dug  for  a  whole  night,  and  met  with  incredible  dilBculty, 
for  as  fast  as  he  threw  one  shovelful  of  earth  out  of  the 
hole,  two  were  thrown  in  by  invisible  hands.  He  succeeded 
so  far,  however,  as  to  uncover  an  iron  chest,  when  there 
was  a  terrible  roaring,  ramping,  and  raging  of  uncouth  fig- 
ures about  the  hole,  and  at  length  a  shower  of  blows,  dealt 

'  Aspect. 

»  See  Story  of  the  Blind  Man,  Baba  Abdalla,  in  Arabian  Nights' 
Entertainment.  An  inhabitant  of  Bagdad,  Asiatic  Turkey,  meets 
with  a  dervish,  or  Turkish  monk,  who  presents  him  with  a  vast 
treasure  and  with  a  box  of  magic  ointment,  which,  applied  to  the 
left  eye,  enables  one  to  see  the  treasures  in  the  bosom  of  the  earth, 
but  on  touching  the  right  eye,  causes  blindness.  Having  applied 
it  to  the  left  eye  with  the  result  predicted,  he  uses  it  on  his  right 
eye,  in  the  hope  that  still  greater  treasures  may  be  revealed,  and 
immediately  becomes  blind. 


Washington  Irving 

by  invisible  cudgels,  fairly  belabored  him  off  of  the  for- 
bidden ground.  This  Cobus  Quackenbos  had  declared  on 
his  deathbed,  so  that  there  could  not  be  any  doubt  of  it. 
He  was  a  man  that  had  devoted  many  years  of  his  life  to 
money  digging,  and  it  v^as  thought  would  have  ultimately 
succeeded  had  he  not  died  recently  of  a  brain  fever  in  the 

Wolfert  Webber  was  now  in  a  worry  of  trepidation  and 
impatience,  fearful  lest  some  rival  adventurer  should  get 
a  scent  of  the  buried  gold.  He  determined  privately  to 
seek  out  the  black  fisherman,  and  get  him  to  serve  as  guide 
to  the  place  where  he  had  witnessed  the  mysterious  scene 
of  interment.  Sam  was  easily  found,  for  he  was  one  of 
those  old  habitual  beings  that  live  about  a  neighborhood 
until  they  wear  themselves  a  place  in  the  public  mind,  and 
become,  in  a  manner,  public  characters.  There  was  not  an 
unlucky  urchin  about  town  that  did  not  know  Sam  the 
fisherman,  and  think  that  he  had  a  right  to  play  his  tricks 
upon  the  old  negro.  Sam  had  led  an  amphibious  life  for 
more  than  half  a  century,  about  the  shores  of  the  bay  and 
the  fishing  grounds  of  the  Sound.  He  passed  the  greater 
part  of  his  time  on  and  in  the  water,  particularly  about  Hell 
Gate,  and  might  have  been  taken,  in  bad  weather,  for  one 
of  the  hobgoblins  that  used  to  haunt  that  strait.  There 
would  he  be  seen,  at  all  times  and  in  all  weathers,  some- 
times in  his  skiff,  anchored  among  the  eddies,  or  prowling 
hke  a  shark  about  some  wreck,  where  the  fish  are  supposed 
to  be  most  abundant;  sometimes  seated  on  a  rock  from 
hour  to  hour,  looking,  in  the  mist  and  drizzle,  like  a  soli- 
tary heron  watching  for  its  prey.  He  was  well  acquainted 
with  every  hole  and  corner  of  the  Sound,  from  the  Walla- 
bout  ^  to  Hell  Gate,  and  from  Hell  Gate  unto  the  Devil's 
Stepping-Stones;  and  it  was  even  affirmed  that  he  knew  all 
the  fish  in  the  river  by  their  Christian  names. 

Wolfert  found  him  at  his  cabin,  which  was  not  much 
larger  than  a  tolerable   dog  house.     It  was  rudely  con- 

1  A  bay  of  the  East  River,  on  which  the  Brooklyn  Navy  Yard  is 


American  Mystery  Stories 

strutted  of  fragments  of  wrecks  and  driftwood,  and  built 
on  the  rocky  shore  at  the  foot  of  the  old  fort,  just  about 
what  at  present  forms  the  point  of  the  Battery.^  A  "  very 
ancient  and  fishlike  smell "  ^  pervaded  the  place.  Oars, 
paddles,  and  fishing  rods  were  leaning  against  the  wall  of 
the  fort,  a  net  was  spread  on  the  sand  to  dry,  a  skiff  was 
drawn  up  on  the  beach,  and  at  the  door  of  his  cabin  was 
Mud  Sam  himself,  indulging  in  the  true  negro  luxury  of 
sleeping  in  the  sunshine. 

Many  years  had  passed  away  since  the  time  of  Sam's 
youthful  adventure,  and  the  snows  of  many  a  winter  had 
grizzled  the  knotty  wool  upon  his  head.  He  perfectly  recol- 
lected the  circumstances,  however,  for  he  had  often  been 
called  upon  to  relate  them,  though  in  his  version  of  the 
story  he  differed  in  many  points  from  Peechy  Prauw,  as  is 
not  infrequently  the  case  with  authentic  historians.  As  to 
the  subsequent  researches  of  money  diggers,  Sam  knew 
nothing  about  them;  they  were  matters  quite  out  of  his 
line;  neither  did  the  cautious  Wolfert  care  to  disturb  his 
thoughts  on  that  point.  His  only  wish  was  to  secure  the 
old  fisherman  as  a  pilot  to  the  spot,  and  this  was  readily 
effected.  The  long  time  that  had  intervened  since  his  noc- 
turnal adventure  had  effaced  all  Sam's  awe  of  the  place,  and 
the  promise  of  a  trifling  reward  roused  him  at  once  from 
his  sleep  and  his  sunshine. 

The  tide  was  adverse  to  making  the  expedition  by  water, 
and  Wolfert  was  too  impatient  to  get  to  the  land  of  promise 
to  wait  for  its  turning;  they  set  off,  therefore,  by  land.  A 
walk  of  four  or  five  miles  brought  them  to  the  edge  o-f  a 
wood,  which  at  that  time  covered  the  greater  part  of  the 
eastern  side  of  the  island.  It  was  just  beyond  the  pleasant 
region  of  Bloomen-dael.^     Here  they  struck  into  a  long 

» The  southern  extremity  of  New  York  City. 

'  See  Shakespeare's  The  Tempest,  act  ii.,  sc.  2. 

»  At  the  time  this  story  was  written  Bloomen-dael  (Flowery  Val- 
ley) was  a  village  four  miles  from  New  York.  It  is  now  that  part 
of  New  York  known  as  Bloomingdale,  on  the  west  side,  between 
about  Seventieth  and  One  Hundredth  Streets. 


Washington  Irving 

lane,  straggHng  among  trees  and  bushes  very  much  over- 
grown with  weeds  and  mullein  stalks,  as  if  but  seldom  used, 
and  so  completely  overshadowed  as  to  enjoy  but  a  kind  of 
twilight.  Wild  vines  entangled  the  trees  and  flaunted  in 
their  faces ;  brambles  and  briers  caught  their  clothes  as  they 
passed;  the  garter  snake  glided  across  their  path;  the 
spotted  toad  hopped  and  waddled  before  them;  and  the 
restless  catbird  mewed  at  them  from  every  thicket.  Had 
Wolfert  Webber  been  deeply  read  in  romantic  legend  he 
might  have  fancied  himself  entering  upon  forbidden,  en- 
chanted ground,  or  that  these  were  some  of  the  guardians 
set  to  keep  watch  upon  buried  treasure.  As  it  was,  the 
loneliness  of  the  place,  and  the  wild  stories  connected  with 
it,  had  their  efifect  upon  his  mind. 

On  reaching  the  lower  end  of  the  lane  they  found  them- 
selves near  the  shore  of  the  Sound,  in  a  kind  of  amphi- 
theater surrounded  by  forest  trees.  The  area  had  once 
been  a  grass  plot,  but  was  now  shagged  with  briers  and 
rank  weeds.  At  one  end,  and  just  on  the  river  bank,  was 
a  ruined  building,  little  better  than  a  heap  of  rubbish,  with 
a  stack  of  chimneys  rising  like  a  solitary  tower  out  of  the 
center.  The  current  of  the  Sound  rushed  along  just  below 
it,  with  wildly  grown  trees  drooping  their  branches  into  its 

Wolfert  had  not  a  doubt  that  this  was  the  haunted  house 
of  Father  Red-cap,  and  called  to  mind  the  story  of  Peechy 
Prauw.  The  evening  was  approaching,  and  the  light,  fall- 
ing dubiously  among  the  woody  places,  gave  a  melancholy 
tone  to  the  scene  well  calculated  to  foster  any  lurking  feel- 
ing of  awe  or  superstition.  The  night  hawk,  wheeling  about 
in  the  highest  regions  of  the  air,  emitted  his  peevish,  boding 
cry.  The  woodpecker  gave  a  lonely  tap  now  and  then  on 
some  hollow  tree,  and  the  firebird  ^  streamed  by  them  with 
his  deep  red  plumage. 

They  now  came  to  an  inclosure  that  had  once  been  a  gar- 
den.   It  extended  along  the  foot  of  a  rocky  ridge,  but  was 

*  Orchard  oriole. 

American  Mystery  Stories 

little  better  than  a  wilderness  of  weeds,  with  here  and  there 
a  matted  rosebush,  or  a  peach  or  plum  tree,  grown  wild 
and  ragged,  and  covered  with  moss.  At  the  lower  end  of 
the  garden  they  passed  a  kind  of  vault  in  the  side  of  a 
bank,  facing  the  water.  It  had  the  look  of  a  root  house.^ 
Tlie  door,  though  decayed,  was  still  strong,  and  appeared 
to  have  been  recently  patched  up.  Wolfert  pushed  it  open. 
It  gave  a  harsh  grating  upon  its  hinges,  and  striking  against 
something  like  a  box,  a  rattling  sound  ensued,  and  a  skull 
rolled  on  the  floor.  Wolfert  drew  back  shuddering,  but  was 
reassured  on  being  informed  by  the  negro  that  this  was  a 
family  vault,  belonging  to  one  of  the  old  Dutch  families  that 
owned  this  estate,  an  assertion  corroborated  by  the  sight 
of  coffins  of  various  sizes  piled  within.  Sam  had  been  fa- 
miliar with  all  these  scenes  when  a  boy,  and  now  knew  that 
he  could  not  be  far  from  the  place  of  which  they  were  in 

They  now  made  their  way  to  the  water's  edge,  scrambling 
along  ledges  of  rocks  that  overhung  the  waves,  and  obliged 
often  to  hold  by  shrubs  and  grapevines  to  avoid  slipping 
into  the  deep  and  hurried  stream.  At  length  they  came  to 
a  small  cove,  or  rather  indent  of  the  shore.  It  was  pro- 
tected by  steep  rocks,  and  overshadowed  by  a  thick  copse 
of  oaks  and  chestnuts,  so  as  to  be  sheltered  and  almost 
concealed.  The  beach  shelved  gradually  within  the  cove, 
but  the  current  swept  deep  and  black  and  rapid  along  its 
jutting  points.  The  negro  paused,  raised  his  remnant  of 
a  hat,  and  scratched  his  grizzled  poll  for  a  moment,  as  he 
regarded  this  nook;  then  suddenly  clapping  his  hands,  he 
stepped  exultingly  forward,  and  pointed  to  a  large  iron 
ring,  stapled  firmly  in  the  rock,  just  where  a  broad  shelf  of 
stone  furnished  a  commodious  landing  place.  It  was  the 
very  spot  where  the  red-caps  had  landed.  Years  had 
changed  the  more  perishable  features  of  the  scene;  but 
rock  and  iron  yield  slowly  to  the  influence  of  time.     On 

'  "Root  house,"  i.e.,  a  house  for  storing  up  potatoes,  turnips,  or 
other  roots  for  the  winter  feed  of  cattle. 


Washington  Irving 

looking  more  closely  Wolfert  remarked  three  crosses  cut  in 
the  rock  jvist  above  the  ring,  which  had  no  doubt  some  mys- 
terious signification.  Old  Sam  now  readily  recognized  the 
overhanging  rock  under  which  his  skiff  had  been  sheltered 
during  the  thunder  gust.  To  follow  up  the  course  which 
the  midnight  gang  had  taken,  however,  was  a  harder  task. 
His  mind  had  been  so  much  taken  up  on  that  eventful 
occasion  by  the  persons  of  the  drama  as  to  pay  but  little 
attention  to  the  scenes,  and  these  places  looked  so  different 
by  night  and  day.  After  wandering  about  for  some  time, 
however,  they  came  to  an  opening  among  the  trees  which 
Sam  thought  resembled  the  place.  There  was  a  ledge  of 
rock  of  moderate  height,  like  a  wall,  on  one  side,  w^hich 
he  thought -might  be  the  very  ridge  whence  he  had  over- 
looked the  diggers.  Wolfert  examined  it  narrowly,  and  at 
length  discovered  three  crosses  similar  to  those  on  the 
above  ring,  cut  deeply  into  the  face  of  the  rock,  but  nearly 
obliterated  by  moss  that  had  grown  over  them.  His  heart 
leaped  with  joy,  for  he  doubted  not  they  were  the  private 
marks  of  the  buccaneers.  All  now  that  remained  was  to  as- 
certain the  precise  spot  where  the  treasure  lay  buried,  for 
otherwise  he  might  dig  at  random  in  the  neighborhood 
of  the  crosses,  without  coming  upon  the  spoils,  and  he  had 
already  had  enough  of  such  profitless  labor.  Here,  how- 
ever, the  old  negro  was  perfectly  at  a  loss,  and  indeed  per- 
plexed him  by  a  variety  of  opinions,  for  his  recollections 
were  all  confused.  Sometimes  he  declared  it  must  have 
been  at  the  foot  of  a  mulberry  tree  hard  by ;  then  beside  a 
great  white  stone;  then  under  a  small  green  knoll,  a  short 
distance  from  the  ledge  of  rocks,  until  at  length  Wolfert 
became  as  bewildered  as  himself. 

The  shadows  of  evening  were  now  spreading  themselves 
over  the  woods,  and  rock  and  tree  began  to  mingle  to- 
gether. It  was  evidently  too  late  to  attempt  anything  fur- 
ther at  present,  and,  indeed,  Wolfert  had  come  unprovided 
with  implements  to  prosecute  his  researches.  Satisfied, 
therefore,  with  having  ascertained  the  place,  he  took  note 
of  all  its  landmarks,  that  he  might  recognize  it  again,  and 


American  Mystery  Stories 

set  out  on  his  return  homeward,  resolved  to  prosecute  this 
golden  enterprise  without  delay. 

The  leading  anxiety  which  had  hitherto  absorbed  every 
feeling  being  now  in  some  measure  appeased,  fancy  began 
to  wander,  and  to  conjure  up  a  thousand  shapes  and  chi- 
meras as  he  returned  through  this  haunted  region.  Pirates 
hanging  in  chains  seemed  to  swing  from  every  tree,  and  he 
almost  expected  to  see  some  Spanish  don,  with  his  throat 
cut  from  ear  to  ear,  rising  slowly  out  of  the  ground,  and 
shaking  the  ghost  of  a  money  bag. 

Their  way  back  lay  through  the  desolate  garden,  and 
Wolfert's  nerves  had  arrived  at  so  sensitive  a  state  that  the 
flitting  of  a  bird,  the  rustling  of  a  leaf,  or  the  falling  of  a 
nut  was  enough  to  startle  him.  As  they  entered  the  con- 
fines of  the  garden,  they  caught  sight  of  a  figure  at  a  dis- 
tance advancing  slowly  up  one  of  the  walks,  and  bending 
under  the  weight  of  a  burden.  They  paused  and  regarded 
him  attentively.  He  wore  what  appeared  to  be  a  woolen 
cap,  and,  still  more  alarming,  of  a  most  sanguinary  red. 

The  figure  moved  slowly  on,  ascended  the  bank,  and 
stopped  at  the  very  door  of  the  sepulchral  vault.  Just 
before  entering  it  he  looked  around.  What  was  the  af- 
fright of  Wolfert  when  he  recognized  the  grisly  visage  of 
the  drowned  buccaneer!  He  uttered  an  ejaculation  of  hor- 
ror. The  figure  slowly  raised  his  iron  fist  and  shook  it 
with  a  terrible  menace.  Wolfert  did  not  pause  to  see  any 
more,  but  hurried  off  as  fast  as  his  legs  could  carry  him, 
nor  was  Sam  slow  in  following  at  his  heels,  having  all  his 
ancient  terrors  revived.  Away,  then,  did  they  scramble 
through  bush  and  brake,  horribly  frightened  at  every  bram- 
ble that  tugged  at  their  skirts,  nor  did  they  pause  to  breathe 
until  they  had  blundered  their  way  through  this  perilous 
wood,  and  fairly  reached  the  highroad  to  the  city. 

Several  days  elapsed  before  Wolfert  could  summon  cour- 
age enough  to  prosecute  the  enterprise,  so  much  had  he 
been  dismayed  by  the  apparition,  whether  living  or  dead, 
of  the  grisly  buccaneer.  In  the  meantime,  what  a  conflict 
of  mind  did  he  suffer!    He  neglected  all  his  concerns,  was 


Washington  Irving 

moody  and  restless  all  day,  lost  his  appetite,  wandered  in 
his  thoughts  and  words,  and  committed  a  thousand  blun- 
ders. His  rest  was  broken,  and  when  he  fell  asleep  the 
nightmare,  in  shape  of  a  huge  money  bag,  sat  squatted  upon 
his  breast.  He  babbled  about  incalculable  sums,  fancied 
himself  engaged  in  money  digging,  threw  the  bedclothes 
right  and  left,  in  the  idea  that  he  was  shoveling  away 
the  dirt,  groped  under  the  bed  in  quest  of  the  treasure, 
and  lugged  forth,  as  he  supposed,  an  inestimable  pot  of 

Dame  Webber  and  her  daughter  were  in  despair  at  what 
they  conceived  a  returning  touch  of  insanity.  There  are 
two  family  oracles,  one  or  other  of  which  Dutch  housewives 
consult  in  all  cases  of  great  doubt  and  perplexity, — the 
dominie  and  the  doctor.  In  the  present  instance  they  re- 
paired to  the  doctor.  There  was  at  that  time  a  little  dark, 
moldy  man  of  medicine,  famous  among  the  old  wives  of 
the  Manhattoes  for  his  skill,  not  only  in  the  healing  art, 
but  in  all  matters  of  strange  and  mysterious  nature.  His 
name  was  Dr.  Knipperhausen,  but  he  was  more  commonly 
known  by  the  appellation  of  the  "  High  German  Doctor."  ^ 
To  him  did  the  poor  women  repair  for  counsel  and  assist- 
ance touching  the  mental  vagaries  of  Wolfert  Webber. 

They  found  the  doctor  seated  in  his  little  study,  clad  in  his 
dark  camlet  ^  robe  of  knowledge,  with  his  black  velvet  cap, 
after  the  manner  of  Boerhaave/  Van  Helmont,*  and  other 
medical  sages,  a  pair  of  green  spectacles  set  in  black  horn 
upon  his  clubbed  nose,  and  poring  over  a  German  folio  that 
reflected  back  the  darkness  of  his  physiognomy.  The  doc- 
tor listened  to  their  statement  of  the  symptoms  of  Wolfert's 
malady  with  profound  attention,  but  when  they  came  to 

*  The  same,  no  doubt,  of  whom  mention  is  made  in  the  history 
of  Dolph  Heyliger. 

*  A  fabric  made  of  goat's  hair  and  silk,  or  wool  and  cotton. 

3  Hermann  Boerhaave  (i  668-1 738),  a  celebrated  Dutch  physician 
and  philosopher. 

■^Jan  Baptista  Van  Helmont  (1577-1644),  a  celebrated  Flemish 
physician  and  chemist. 


American  Mystery  Stories 

mention  his  raving  about  buried  money  the  Httle  man 
pricked  up  his  ears.  Alas,  poor  women!  they  httle  knew  the 
aid  they  had  called  in. 

Dr.  Knipperhausen  had  been  half  his  life  engaged  in 
seeking  the  short  cuts  to  fortune,  in  quest  of  which  so  many 
a  long  lifetime  is  wasted.  He  had  passed  some  years  of 
his  youth  among  the  Harz  ^  mountains  of  Germany,  and 
had  derived  much  valuable  instruction  from  the  miners 
touching  the  mode  of  seeking  treasure  buried  in  the  earth. 
He  had  prosecuted  his  studies,  also,  under  a  traveling 
sage  who  united  the  mysteries  of  medicine  with  magic  and 
legerdemain.  His  mind,  therefore,  had  become  stored  with 
all  kinds  of  mystic  lore;  he  had  dabbled  a  little  in  astrology, 
alchemy,  divination;^  knew  how  to  detect  stolen  money, 
and  to  tell  where  springs  of  water  lay  hidden;  in  a  word, 
by  the  dark  nature  of  his  knowledge  he  had  acquired  the 
name  of  the  "  High  German  Doctor,"  which  is  pretty  nearly 
equivalent  to  that  of  necromancer.  The  doctor  had  often 
heard  rumors  of  treasure  being  buried  in  various  parts  of 
the  island,  and  had  long  been  anxious  to  get  on  the  traces 
of  it.  No  sooner  were  Wolfert's  waking  and  sleeping 
vagaries  confided  to  him  than  he  beheld  in  them  the  con- 
firmed symptoms  of  a  case  of  money  digging,  and  lost  no 
time  in  probing  it  to  the  bottom.  Wolfert  had  long  been 
sorely  oppressed  in  mind  by  the  golden  secret,  and  as  a 
family  physician  is  a  kind  of  father  confessor,  he  was  glad 
of  any  opportunity  of  unburdening  himself.  So  far  from 
curing,  the  doctor  caught  the  malady  from  his  patient.  The 
circumstances  unfolded  to  him  awakened  all  his  cupidity; 
he  had  not  a  doubt  of  money  being  buried  somewhere  in 

'  A  mountain  chain  in  northwestern  Germany,  between  the  Elbe 
and  the  Weser. 

2  Astrology,  alchemy,  and  divination  were  three  imaginary  arts. 
The  first  pretended  to  judge  of  the  influence  of  the  stars  on  human 
affairs,  and  to  foretell  events  by  their  positions  and  aspects;  the 
second  aimed  to  transmute  the  baser  metals  into  gold,  and  to  find 
a  universal  remedy  for  diseases ;  while  the  third  dealt  with  the  dis- 
covery of  secret  or  future  events  by  preternatural  means. 


IVashiugton  Irving 

the  neighborhood  of  the  mysterious  crosses,  and  offered 
to  join  Wolfert  in  the  search.  He  informed  him  that  much 
secrecy  and  caution  must  be  observed  in  enterprises  of  the 
kind;  that  money  is  only  to  be  dug  for  at  night,  with  cer- 
tain forms  and  ceremonies  and  burning  of  drugs,  the  repeat- 
ing of  mystic  words,  and,  above  all,  that  the  seekers  must 
first  be  provided  with  a  divining  rod,^  which  had  the  won- 
derful property  of  pointing  to  the  very  spot  on  the  surface 
of  the  earth  under  which  treasure  lay  hidden.  As  the  doc- 
tor had  given  much  of  his  mind  to  these  matters  he  charged 
himself  with  all  the  necessary  preparations,  and,  as  the  quar- 
ter of  the  moon  was  propitious,  he  undertook  to  have  the 
divining  rod  ready  by  a  certain  night. 

Wolfert's  heart  leaped  with  joy  at  having  met  with  so 
learned  and  able  a  coadjutor.  Everything  went  on  secretly 
but  swimmingly.  The  doctor  had  many  consultations  with 
his  patient,  and  the  good  women  of  the  household  lauded 
the  comforting  effect  of  his  visits.  In  the  meantime  the 
wonderful  divining  rod,  that  great  key  to  nature's  secrets, 
was  duly  prepared.  The  doctor  had  thumbed  over  all  his 
books  of  knowledge  for  the  occasion,  and  the  black  fisher- 
man was  engaged  to  take  them  in  his  skiff  to  the  scene 
of  enterprise,  to  work  with  spade  and  pickax  in  unearthing 
the  treasure,  and  to  freight  his  bark  with  the  weighty  spoils 
they  were  certain  of  finding. 

At  length  the  appointed  night  arrived  for  this  perilous 
undertaking.  Before  Wolfert  left  his  home  he  counseled 
his  wife  and  daughter  to  go  to  bed,  and  feel  no  alarm  if 
he  should  not  return  during  the  night.  Like  reasonable 
women,  on  being  told  not  to  feel  alarm  they  fell  immediately 
into  a  panic.  They  saw  at  once  by  his  manner  that  some- 
thing unusual  was  in  agitation;  all  their  fears  about  the 
unsettled  state  of  his  mind  were  revived  with  tenfold  force; 
they  hung  about  him,  entreating  him  not  to  expose  himself 
to  the  night  air,  but  all  in  vain.     When  once  Wolfert  was 

>  A  divining  rod  is  a  rod  used  by  those  who  pretend  to  discover 
water  or  metals  underground.  It  is  commonly  made  of  witch 
hazel,  with  forked  branches. 


American  Mystery  Stories 

mounted  on  his  liobby/  it  was  no  easy  manner  to  get  him 
out  of  the  saddle.  It  was  a  clear,  starlight  night  when  he 
issued  out  of  the  portal  of  the  Webber  palace.  He  wore  a 
large  fiapped  hat,  tied  under  the  chin  with  a  handkerchief 
of  his  daughter's,  to  secure  him  from  the  night  damp,  while 
Dame  Webber  threw  her  long  red  cloak  about  his  shoul- 
ders, and  fastened  it  round  his  neck. 

The  doctor  had  been  no  less  carefully  armed  and  accou- 
tered  by  his  housekeeper,  the  vigilant  Frau  Ilsy,  and  sal- 
lied forth  in  his  camlet  robe  by  way  of  surcoat,^  his  black 
velvet  cap  under  his  cocked  hat,  a  thick  clasped  book  under 
his  arm,  a  basket  of  drugs  and  dried  herbs  in  one  hand, 
and  in  the  other  the  miraculous  rod  of  divination. 

The  great  church  clock  struck  ten  as  Wolfert  and  the 
doctor  passed  by  the  churchyard,  and  the  watchman  bawled 
in  hoarse  voice  a  long  and  doleful  "  All's  well!  "  A  deep 
sleep  had  already  fallen  upon  this  primitive  little  burgh; 
nothing  disturbed  this  awful  silence  excepting  now  and 
then  the  bark  of  some  profligate,  night-walking  dog,  or  the 
serenade  of  some  rom.antic  cat.  It  is  true  Wolfert  fancied 
more  than  once  that  he  heard  the  sound  of  a  stealthy  foot- 
fall at  a  distance  behind  them;  but  it  might  have  been 
merely  the  echo  of  their  own  steps  along  the  quiet  streets. 
He  thought  also  at  one  time  that  he  saw  a  tall  figure  skulk- 
ing after  them,  stopping  when  they  stopped  and  moving  on 
as  they  proceeded;  but  the  dim  and  uncertain  lamplight 
threw  such  vague  gleams  and  shadows  that  this  might  all 
have  been  mere  fancy. 

They  found  the  old  fisherman  waiting  for  them,  smoking 
his  pipe  in  the  stern  of  the  skiff,  which  was  moored  just  in 
front  of  his  little  cabin.  A  pickax  and  spade  were  lying  in 
the  bottom  of  the  boat,  with  a  dark  lantern,  and  a  stone 
bottle  of  good  Dutch  courage,^   in  which  honest  Sam  no 

1  Hobby,  or  hobbyhorse,  a  favorite  th^rne  of  .thought;  hence,  "to 
mount  a  hobby"  is  to  follow  a  favorite  pursuit.  •  •'•■•  -''-- 

'  Overcoat. 

'  Dutch  courage  is  courage  that  results  from  indulgence  in  Dutch 
gin  or  Hollands;  here  applied  to  the  gin  itself. ^'j'j.    '/',', 


Washington  Irving 

doubt  put  even  more  faith  than  Dr.  Knipperhausen  in  his 

Thus,  then,  did  these  three  worthies  embark  in  their 
cockleshell  of  a  skiff  upon  this  nocturnal  expedition,  with 
a  wisdom  and  valor  equaled  only  by  the  three  wise  men  of 
Gotham/  who  adventured  to  sea  in  a  bowl.  The  tide  was 
rising  and  running  rapidly  up  the  Sound.  The  current  bore 
them  along,  almost  without  the  aid  of  an  oar.  The  profile 
of  the  town  lay  all  in  shadow.  Here  and  there  a  light 
feebly  glimmered  from  some  sick  chamber,  or  from  the 
cabin  window  of  some  vessel  at  anchor  in  the  stream.  Not 
a  cloud  obscured  the  deep,  starry  firmament,  the  lights  of 
which  wavered  on  the  surface  of  the  placid  river,  and  a 
shooting  meteor,  streaking  its  pale  course  in  the  very  direc- 
tion they  were  taking,  was  interpreted  by  the  doctor  into  a 
most  propitious  omen. 

In  a  little  while  they  glided  by  the  point  of  Corlear's 
Hook,  with  the  rural  inn  which  had  been  the  scene  of  such 
night  adventures.  The  family  had  retired  to  rest,  and  the 
house  was  dark  and  still.  Wolfert  felt  a  chill  pass  over  him 
as  they  passed  the  point  where  the  buccaneer  had  disap- 
peared. He  pointed  it  out  to  Dr.  Knipperhausen.  While 
regarding  it  they  thought  they  saw  a  boat  actually  lurking 
at  the  very  place;  but  the  shore  cast  such  a  shadow  over 
the  border  of  the  water  that  they  could  discern  nothing  dis- 
tinctly. They  had  not  proceeded  far  when  they  heard  the 
low  sounds  of  distant  oars,  as  if  cautiously  pulled.  Sam 
plied  his  oars  with  redoubled  vigor,  and  knowing  all  the 
eddies  and  currents  of  the  stream,  soon  left  their  follow- 
ers, if  such  they  were,  far  astern.     In  a  little  while  they 

»  "Three  wise  men  of  Gotham, 
They  went  to  sea  in  a  bowl — 
And  if  the  bowl  had  been  stronger, 
My  tale  had  been  longer." 

Mother  Goose  Melody. 

Gotham  was  a  village  proverbial  for  the  blundering  simplicity 
of  its  inhabitants.  At  first  the  name  referred  to  an  English  village. 
Irving  applied  it  to  New  York  City. 


American  Mystery  Stories 

stretched  across  Turtle  Bay  and  Kip's  Bay,^  then  shrouded 
themselves  in  the  deep  shadows  of  the  Manhattan  shore, 
and  glided  swiftly  along,  secure  from  observation.  At 
length  the  negro  shot  his  skiff  into  a  little  cove,  darkly  em- 
bowered by  trees,  and  made  it  fast  to  the  well-known  iron 
ring.  They  now  landed,  and  lighting  the  lantern  gathered 
their  various  implements  and  proceeded  slowly  through  the 
bushes.  Every  sound  startled  them,  even  that  of  their  own 
footsteps  among  the  dry  leaves,  and  the  hooting  of  a  screech 
owl,  from  the  shattered  chimney  of  the  neighboring  ruin, 
made  their  blood  run  cold. 

In  spite  of  all  Wolfert's  caution  in  taking  note  of  the  land- 
marks, it  was  some  time  before  they  could  find  the  open 
place  among  the  trees,  where  the  treasure  was  supposed 
to  be  buried.  At  length  they  came  to  the  ledge  of  rock, 
and  on  examining  its  surface  by  the  aid  of  the  lantern, 
Wolfert  recognized  the  three  mystic  crosses.  Their  hearts 
beat  quick,  for  the  momentous  trial  was  at  hand  that  w^as 
to  determine  their  hopes. 

The  lantern  was  now  held  by  Wolfert  Webber,  while  the 
doctor  produced  the  divining  rod.  It  was  a  forked  twig, 
one  end  of  which  was  grasped  firmly  in  each  hand,  while 
the  center,  forming  the  stem,  pointed  perpendicularly  up- 
ward. The  doctor  moved  his  wand  about,  within  a  cer- 
tain distance  of  the  earth,  from  place  to  place,  but  for  some 
time  without  any  efifect,  while  Wolfert  kept  the  light  of  the 
lantern  turned  full  upon  it,  and  watched  it  with  the  most 
breathless  interest.  At  length  the  rod  began  slowly  to 
turn.  The  doctor  grasped  it  with  greater  earnestness,  his 
hands  trembling  with  the  agitation  of  his  mind.  The  wand 
continued  to  turn  gradually,  until  at  length  the  stem  had 
reversed  its  position,  and  pointed  perpendicularly  down- 
ward, and  remained  pointing  to  one  spot  as  fixedly  as  the 
needle  to  the  pole. 

"  This  is  the  spot! "  said  the  doctor,  in  an  almost  inaudi- 
ble tone. 

Wolfert's  heart  was  in  his  throat. 

»  A  small  bay  in  the  East  River  below  Corlear's  Hook. 


Washington  Irving 

"  Shall  I  dig?  "  said  the  negro,  grasping  the  spade. 

"  Pots  tansciid^  no !  "  replied  the  little  doctor  hastily. 
He  now  ordered  his  companions  to  keep  close  by  him,  and 
to  maintain  the  most  inflexible  silence;  that  certain  precau- 
tions must  be  taken  and  ceremonies  used  to  prevent  the 
evil  spirits  which  kept  about  buried  treasure  from  doing 
them  any  harm.  He  then  drew  a  circle  about  the  place, 
enough  to  include  the  whole  party.  He  next  gathered  dry 
twigs  and  leaves  and  made  a  fire,  upon  which  he  threw 
certain  drugs  and  dried  herbs  which  he  had  brought  in  his 
basket.  A  thick  smoke  rose,  diffusing  a  potent  odor  savor- 
ing marvelously  of  brimstone  and  asafetida,  which,  how- 
ever grateful  it  might  be  to  the  olfactory  nerves  of  spirits, 
nearly  strangled  poor  Wolfert,  and  produced  a  fit  of  cough- 
ing and  wheezing  that  made  the  whole  grove  resound.  Dr. 
Knipperhausen  then  unclasped  the  volume  which  he  had 
brought  under  his  arm,  which  was  printed  in  red  and  black 
characters  in  German  text.  While  Wolfert  held  the  lantern, 
the  doctor,  by  the  aid  of  his  spectacles,  read  ofif  several 
forms  of  conjuration  in  Latin  and  German.  He  then  or- 
dered Sam  to  seize  the  pickax  and  proceed  to  work.  The 
close-bound  soil  gave  obstinate  signs  of  not  having  been 
disturbed  for  many  a  year.  After  having  picked  his  way 
through  the  surface,  Sam  came  to  a  bed  of  sand  and  gravel, 
which  he  threw  briskly  to  right  and  left  with  the  spade. 

"Hark!"  said  Wolfert,  who  fancied  he  heard  a  tram- 
pling among  the  dry  leaves  and  a  rustling  through  the 
bushes.  Sam  paused  for  a  moment,  and  they  listened.  No 
footstep  was  near.  The  bat  flitted  by  them  in  silence;  a 
bird,  roused  from  its  roost  by  the  light  which  glared  up 
among  the  trees,  flew  circling  about  the  flame.  In  the 
profound  stillness  of  the  woodland  they  could  distinguish 
the  current  rippling  along  the  rocky  shore,  and  the  distant 
murmuring  and  roaring  of  Hell  Gate. 

The  negro  continued  his  labors,  and  had  already  digged 
a  considerable  hole.    The  doctor  stood  on  the  edge,  reading 

'  A  German  exclamation  of  anger,  equivalent  to  the  English 


American  Mystery  Stories 

formulae  every  now  and  then  from  his  black-letter  volume, 
or  throwing  more  drugs  and  herbs  upon  the  fire,  while 
Wolfert  bent  anxiously  over  the  pit,  watching  every  stroke 
of  the  spade.  Anyone  witnessing  the  scene  thus  lighted  up 
by  fire,  lantern,  and  the  reflection  of  Wolfert's  red  mantle, 
might  have  mistaken  the  little  doctor  for  some  foul  magi- 
cian, busied  in  his  incantations,  and  the  grizzly-headed 
negro  for  some  swart  goblin  obedient  to  his  commands. 

At  length  the  spade  of  the  fisherman  struck  upon  some- 
thing that  sounded  hollow.  The  sound  vibrated  to  Wol- 
fert's heart.     He  struck  his  spade  again. 

"  'Tis  a  chest,"  said  Sam. 

"Full  of  gold,  I'll  warrant  it!"  cried  Wolfert,  clasping 
his  hands  with  rapture. 

Scarcely  had  he  uttered  the  words  when  a  sound  from 
above  caught  his  ear.  He  cast  up  his  eyes,  and  lo!  by  the 
expiring  light  of  the  fire  he  beheld,  just  over  the  disk  of 
the  rock,  what  appeared  to  be  the  grim  visage  of  the 
drowned  buccaneer,  grinning  hideously  down  upon  him. 

Wolfert  gave  a  loud  cry  and  let  fall  the  lantern.  His 
panic  communicated  itself  to  his  companions.  The  negro 
leaped  out  of  the  hole,  the  doctor  dropped  his  book  and 
basket,  and  began  to  pray  in  German.  All  was  horror  and 
confusion.  The  fire  was  scattered  about,  the  lantern  extin- 
guished. In  their  hurry-scurry  ^  they  ran  against  and  con- 
founded one  another.  They  fancied  a  legion  of  hobgoblins 
let  loose  upon  them,  and  that  they  saw,  by  the  fitful  gleams 
of  the  scattered  embers,  strange  figures,  in  red  caps,  gib- 
bering and  ramping  around  them.  The  doctor  ran  one 
way,  the  negro  another,  and  Wolfert  made  for  the  water 
side.  As  he  plunged  struggling  onward  through  brush 
and  brake,  he  heard  the  tread  of  some  one  in  pursuit.  He 
scrambled  frantically  forward.  The  footsteps  gained  upon 
him.  He  felt  himself  grasped  by  his  cloak,  when  suddenly 
his  pursuer  was  attacked  in  turn ;  a  fierce  fight  and  struggle 
ensued,  a  pistol  was  discharged  that  lit  up  rock  and  bush 
for  a  second,  and  show^ed  two  figures  grappling  together-, 
'  A  swift,  disorderly  movement. 

Washington  Irving 

all  was  then  darker  than  ever.  The  contest  continued,  the 
combatants  clinched  each  other,  and  panted  and  groaned, 
and  rolled  among  the  rocks.  There  was  snarling  and 
growling  as  of  a  cur,  mingled  with  curses,  in  which  Wol- 
fert  fancied  he  could  recognize  the  voice  of  the  buccaneer. 
He  would  fain  have  fled,  but  he  was  on  the  brink  of  a 
precipice,  and  could  go  no  farther. 

Again  the  parties  were  on  their  feet,  again  there  was  a 
tugging  and  struggling,  as  if  strength  alone  could  decide  the 
combat,  until  one  was  precipitated  from  the  brow  of  the  olifif, 
and  sent  headlong  into  the  deep  stream  that  whirled  below, 
Wolfert  heard  the  plunge,  and  a  kind  of  strangling,  bub- 
bling murmur,  but  the  darkness  of  the  night  hid  everything 
from  him,  and  the  swiftness  of  the  current  swept  everything 
instantly  out  of  hearing.  One  of  the  combatants  was  dis- 
posed of,  but  whether  friend  or  foe  Wolfert  could  not  tell, 
nor  whether  they  might  not  both  be  foes.  He  heard  the 
survivor  approach,  and  his  terror  revived.  He  saw,  where 
the  profile  of  the  rocks  rose  against  the  horizon,  a  human 
form  advancing.  He  could  not  be  mistaken;  it  must  be  the 
buccaneer.  Whither  should  he  fly? — a  precipice  was  on  one 
side,  a  murderer  on  the  other.  The  enemy  approached — 
he  was  close  at  hand.  Wolfert  attempted  to  let  himself 
down  the  face  of  the  cliflf.  His  cloak  caught  in  a  thorn  that 
grew  on  the  edge.  He  was  jerked  from  off  his  feet,  and 
held  dangling  in  the  air,  half  choked  by  the  string  with 
which  his  careful  wife  had  fastened  the  garment  around  his 
neck.  Wolfert  thought  his  last  moment  was  arrived;  al- 
ready had  he  committed  his  soul  to  St.  Nicholas,  when  the 
string  broke,  and  he  tumbled  down  the  bank,  bumping  from 
rock  to  rock  and  bush  to  bush,  and  leaving  the  red  cloak 
fluttering  like  a  bloody  banner  in  the  air. 

It  was  a  long  while  before  Wolfert  came  to  himself. 
When  he  opened  his  eyes,  the  ruddy  streaks  of  morning 
were  already  shooting  up  the  sky.  He  found  himself  griev- 
ously battered,  and  lying  in  the  bottom  of  a  boat.  He 
attempted  to  sit  up,  but  was  too  sore  and  stiff  to  move.  A 
voice  requested  him  in  a  friendly  accents  to  lie  still.    He 


American  Mystery  Stories 

turned  his  eyes  toward  the  speaker;  it  was  Dirk  Waldron. 
He  had  dogged  the  party,  at  the  earnest  request  of  Dame 
Webber  and  her  daughter,  who,  with  the  laudable  curiosity 
of  their  sex,  had  pried  into  the  secret  consultations  of  Wol- 
fert  and  the  doctor.  Dirk  had  been  completely  distanced 
in  following  the  light  skiff  of  the  fisherman,  and  had  just 
come  in  time  to  rescue  the  poor  money  digger  from  his 

Thus  ended  this  perilous  enterprise.  The  doctor  and 
Black  Sam  severally  found  their  way  back  to  the  Manhat- 
toes,  each  having  some  dreadful  tale  of  peril  to  relate.  As 
to  poor  Wolfert,  instead  of  returning  in  triumph,  laden 
with  bags  of  gold,  he  was  borne  home  on  a  shutter,  fol- 
lowed by  a  rabble-rout  ^  of  curious  urchins.  His  wife  and 
daughter  saw  the  dismal  pageant  from  a  distance,  and 
alarmed  the  neighborhood  with  their  cries;  they  thought 
the  poor  man  had  suddenly  settled  the  great  debt  of  nature 
in  one  of  his  wayward  moods.  Finding  him,  however, 
still  living,  they  had  him  speedily  to  bed,  and  a  jury  of 
old  matrons  of  the  neighborhood  assembled  to  determine 
how  he  should  be  doctored.  The  whole  town  was  in  a 
buzz  with  the  story  of  the  money  diggers.  Many  repaired 
to  the  scene  of  the  previous  night's  adventures;  but  though 
they  found  the  very  place  of  the  digging,  they  discovered 
nothing  that  compensated  them  for  their  trouble.  Some 
say  they  found  the  fragments  of  an  oaken  chest,  and  an 
iron  pot  lid,  which  savored  strongly  of  hidden  money,  and 
that  in  the  old  family  vault  there  were  traces  of  bales  and 
boxes;  but  this  is  all  very  dubious. 

In  fact,  the  secret  of  all  this  story  has  never  to  this  day 
been  discovered.  Whether  any  treasure  were  ever  actually 
buried  at  that  place;  whether,  if  so,  it  were  carried  off  at 
night  by  those  who  had  buried  it;  or  whether  it  still  re- 
mains there  under  the  guardianship  of  gnomes  and  spirits 
until  it  shall  be  properly  sought  for,  is  all  matter  of  conjec- 
ture. For  my  part,  I  incline  to  the  latter  opinion,  and  make 
no  doubt  that  great  sums  lie  buried,  both  there  and  in  other 

>  A  noisy  throng. 

Washington  Irving 

parts  of  this  island  and  its  neighborhood,  ever  since  the 
times  of  the  buccaneers  and  the  Dutch  colonists;  and  I 
\Y0uld  earnestly  recommend  the  search  after  them  to  such 
of  my  fellow  citizens  as  are  not  engaged  in  any  other 

There  were  many  conjectures  formed,  also,  as  to  who 
and  what  was  the  strange  man  of  the  seas,  who  had  domi- 
neered over  the  little  fraternity  at  Corlear's  Hook  for  a 
time,  disappeared  so  strangely,  and  reappeared  so  fearfully. 
Some  supposed  him  a  smuggler  stationed  at  that  place  to 
assist  his  comrades  in  landing  their  goods  among  the  rocky 
coves  of  the  island.  Others,  that  he  was  one  of  the  ancient 
comrades  of  Kidd  or  Bradish,  returned  to  convey  away 
treasures  formerly  hidden  in  the  vicinity.  The  only  cir- 
cumstance that  throws  anything  like  a  vague  light  on  this 
mysterious  matter  is  a  report  which  prevailed  of  a  strange, 
foreign-built  shallop,  with  much  the  look  of  a  picaroon,^ 
having  been  seen  hovering  about  the  Sound  for  several  days 
without  landing  or  reporting  herself,  though  boats  were 
seen  going  to  and  from  her  at  night;  and  that  she  was  seen 
standing  out  of  the  mouth  of  the  harbor,  in  the  gray  of  the 
dawn,  after  the  catastrophe  of  the  money  diggers. 

I  must  not  omit  to  mention  another  report,  also,  which 
I  confess  is  rather  apocryphal,  of  the  buccaneer  who  is  sup- 
posed to  have  been  drowned,  being  seen  before  daybreak, 
with  a  lantern  in  his  hand,  seated  astride  of  his  great  sea 
chest,  and  sailing  through  Hell  Gate,  which  just  then  began 
to  roar  and  bellow  with  redoubled  fury. 

While  all  the  gossip  world  was  thus  filled  with  talk  and 
rumor,  poor  Wolfert  lay  sick  and  sorrowfully  in  his  bed, 
bruised  in  body  and  sorely  beaten  down  in  mind.  His  wife 
and  daughter  did  all  they  could  to  bind  up  his  wounds,  both 
corporal  and  spiritual.  The  good  old  dame  never  stirred 
from  his  bedside,  where  she  sat  knitting  from  morning  till 
night,  while  his  daughter  busied  herself  about  him  with  the 
fondest  care.  Nor  did  they  lack  assistance  from  abroad. 
Whatever  may  be  said  of  the  desertion  of  friends  in  dis- 

>  A  piratical  vessel. 

American  Mystery  Stories 

tress,  they  had  no  complaint  of  the  kind  to  make.  Not  an 
old  wife  of  the  neighborhood  but  abandoned  her  work  to 
crowd  to  the  mansion  of  Wolfert  Webber,  to  inquire  after 
his  health  and  the  particulars  of  his  story.  Not  one  came, 
moreover,  without  her  little  pipkin  of  pennyroyal,  sage, 
balm,  or  other  herb  tea,  delighted  at  an  opportunity  of  sig- 
nalizing her  kindness  and  her  doctorship.  What  drench- 
ings  did  not  the  poor  Wolfert  undergo,  and  all  in  vain!  It 
was  a  moving  sight  to  behold  him  wasting  away  day  by  day, 
growing  thinner  and  thinner  and  ghastlier  and  ghastlier,  and 
staring  with  rueful  visage  from  under  an  old  patchwork 
counterpane,  upon  the  jury  of  matrons  kindly  assembled  to 
sigh  and  groan  and  look  unhappy  around  him. 

Dirk  Waldron  was  the  only  being  that  seemed  to  shed  a 
ray  of  sunshine  into  this  house  of  mourning.  He  came  in 
with  cheery  look  and  manly  spirit,  and  tried  to  reanimate 
the  expiring  heart  of  the  poor  money  digger,  but  it  was  all 
in  vain.  Wolfert  was  completely  done  over.^  If  anything 
was  wanting  to  complete  his  despair,  it  was  a  notice,  served 
upon  him  in  the  midst  of  his  distress,  that  the  corporation 
was  about  to  run  a  new  street  through  the  very  center  of 
his  cabbage  garden.  He  now  saw  nothing  before  him  but 
poverty  and  ruin;  his  last  reliance,  the  garden  of  his  fore- 
fathers, was  to  be  laid  waste,  and  what  then  was  to  become 
of  his  poor  wife  and  child? 

His  eyes  filled  with  tears  as  they  followed  the  dutiful  Amy 
out  of  the  room  one  morning.  Dirk  Waldron  was  seated 
beside  him;  Wolfert  grasped  his  hand,  pointed  after  his 
daughter,  and  for  the  first  time  since  his  illness  broke  the 
silence  he  had  maintained. 

"  I  am  going!  "  said  he,  shaking  his  head  feebly,  "  and 
when  I  am  gone,  my  poor  daughter " 

"Leave  her  to  me,  father!"  said  Dirk  manfully;  "I'll 
take  care  of  her!  " 

Wolfert  looked  up  in  the  face  of  the  cheery,  strapping 
youngster,  and  saw  there  was  none  better  able  to  take  care 
of  a  woman. 


Washington  Irving 

"  Enough,"  said  he,  "  she  is  yours !  And  now  fetch  me  a 
lawyer — let  me  make  my  will  and  die." 

The  lawyer  was  brought, — a  dapper,  bustling,  round- 
headed  little  man.  Roorback  (or  Rollebuck,  as  it  was  pro- 
nounced) by  name.  At  the  sight  of  him  the  women  broke 
into  loud  lamentations,  for  they  looked  upon  the  signing 
of  a  will  as  the  signing  of  a  death  warrant.  Wolfert  made 
a  feeble  motion  for  them  to  be  silent.  Poor  Amy  buried 
her  face  and  her  grief  in  the  bed  curtain.  Dame  Webber 
resumed  her  knitting  to  hide  her  distress,  which  betrayed 
itself,  however,  in  a  pellucid  tear,  which  trickled  silently 
down,  and  hung  at  the  end  of  her  peaked  nose;  while  the 
cat,  the  only  unconcerned  member  of  the  family,  played 
with  the  good  dame's  ball  of  worsted  as  it  rolled  about  the 

Wolfert  lay  on  his  back,  his  nightcap  drawn  over  his 
forehead,  his  eyes  closed,  his  whole  visage  the  picture  of 
death.  He  begged  the  lawyer  to  be  brief,  for  he  felt  his 
end  approaching,  and  that  he  had  no  time  to  lose.  The 
lawyer  nibbed  ^  his  pen,  spread  out  his  paper,  and  prepared 
to  write. 

"  I  give  and  bequeath,"  said  Wolfert  faintly,  "  my  small 
farm " 

"  What!  all?  "  exclaimed  the  lawyer. 

Wolfert  half  opened  his  eyes  and  looked  upon  the 

"Yes,  all,"  said  he. 

"  What !  all  that  great  patch  of  land  with  cabbages  and 
sunflowers,  which  the  corporation  is  just  going  to  run  a 
main  street  through?" 

"  The  same,"  said  Wolfert,  with  a  heavy  sigh,  and  sink- 
ing back  upon  his  pillow, 

"  I  wish  him  joy  that  inherits  it ! "  said  the  little  lawyer^ 
chuckling  and  rubbing  his  hands  involuntarily. 

"What  do  you  mean?"  said  Wolfert,  again  opening  his 

'  In  Irving's  time,  quills  were  made  into  pens  by  pointing  or 
"nibbing"  their  ends. 


American  Mystery  Stories 

"  That  he'll  he  one  of  the  richest  men  in  the  place," 
cried  little  Rollebuck. 

The  expiring  Wolfert  seemed  to  step  back  from  the 
threshold  of  existence;  his  eyes  again  lighted  up;  he  raised 
himself  in  his  bed,  shoved  back  his  red  worsted  nightcap, 
and  stared  broadly  at  the  lawyer. 

"  You  don't  say  so!  "  exclaimed  he, 

"  Faith  but  I  do!  "  rejoined  the  other.  "  Why,  when  that 
great  field  and  that  huge  meadow  come  to  be  laid  out  in 
streets  and  cut  up  into  snug  building  lots, — why,  whoever 
owns  it  need  not  pull  ofT  his  hat  to  the  patroon!  " 

"  Say  you  so?  "  cried  Wolfert,  half  thrusting  one  leg  out 
of  bed ;  "  why,  then,  I  think  I'll  not  make  my  will  yet." 

To  the  surprise  of  everybody  the  dying  man  actually 
recovered.  The  vital  spark,  which  had  glimmered  faintly 
in  the  socket,  received  fresh  fuel  from  the  oil  of  gladness 
which  the  little  lawyer  poured  into  his  soul.  It  once  more 
burned  up  into  a  flame. 

Give  physic  to  the  heart,  ye  who  would  revive  the  body 
of  a  spirit-broken  man!  In  a  few  days  Wolfert  left  his 
room ;  in  a  few  days  more  his  table  was  covered  with  deeds, 
plans  of  streets  and  building  lots.  Little  Rollebuck  was 
constantly  with  him,  his  right  hand  man  and  adviser,  and 
instead  of  making  his  will  assisted  in  the  more  agreeable 
task  of  making  his  fortune.  In  fact  Wolfert  Webber  was 
one  of  those  worthy  Dutch  burghers  of  the  Manhattoes 
whose  fortunes  have  been  made,  in  a  manner,  in  spite  of 
themselves;  who  have  tenaciously  held  on  to  their  heredi- 
tary acres,  raising  turnips  and  cabbages  about  the  skirts  of 
the  city,  hardly  able  to  make  both  ends  meet,  until  the 
corporation  has  cruelly  driven  streets  through  their  abodes, 
and  they  have  suddenly  awakened  out  of  their  lethargy, 
and,  to  their  astonishment,  found  themselves  rich  men. 

Before  many  months  had  elapsed  a  great,  bustling  street 
passed  through  the  very  center  of  the  Webber  garden,  just 
where  Wolfert  had  dreamed  of  finding  a  treasure.  His 
golden  dream  was  accomplished;  he  did,  indeed,  find  an 
unlooked-for  source  of  wealth,  for,  when  his  paternal  lands 


Washington  Irving 

were  distributed  into  building  lots  and  rented  out  to  safe 
tenants,  instead  of  producing  a  paltry  crop  of  cabbages  they 
returned  him  an  abundant  crop  of  rent,  insomuch  that  on 
quarter  day  it  was  a  goodly  sight  to  see  his  tenants  knock- 
ing at  the  door  from  morning  till  night,  each  with  a  little 
round-bellied  bag  of  money,  a  golden  produce  of  the  soil. 

The  ancient  mansion  of  his  forefathers  was  still  kept  up, 
but,  instead  of  being  a  little  yellow-fronted  Dutch  house  in 
a  garden,  it  now  stood  boldly  in  the  midst  of  a  street,  the 
grand  home  of  the  neighborhood;  for  Wolfert  enlarged  it 
with  a  wing  on  each  side,  and  a  cupola  or  tea  room  on 
top,  where  he  might  climb  up  and  smoke  his  pipe  in  hot 
weather,  and  in  the  course  of  time  the  whole  mansion  was 
overrun  by  the  chubby-faced  progeny  of  Amy  Webber  and 
Dirk  Waldron. 

As  Wolfert  waxed  old  and  rich  and  corpulent  he  also  set 
up  a  great  gingerbread-colored  carriage,  drawn  by  a  pair 
of  black  Flanders  mares  with  tails  that  swept  the  ground; 
and  to  commemorate  the  origin  of  his  greatness  he  had 
for  his  crest  a  full-blown  cabbage  painted  on  the  panels, 
with  the  pithy  motto,  ALLES  KOPF,  that  is  to  say,  all 
HEAD,  meaning  thereby  that  he  had  risen  by  sheer  head 

To  fill  the  measure  of  his  greatness,  in  the  fullness  of 
time  the  renowned  Ramm  Rapelye  slept  with  his  fathers, 
and  Wolfert  Webber  succeeded  to  the  leather-bottomed 
armchair  in  the  inn  parlor  at  Corlear's  Hook;  where  he 
long  reigned,  greatly  honored  and  respected,  insomuch  that 
he  was  never  known  to  tell  a  story  without  its  being  be- 
lieved, nor  to  utter  a  joke  without  its  being  laughed  at. 


Introduction  to  "Wieland's  Madness,'*  from  *^Wie- 
land,  or  The  Transformation** 

From  Virtue's  blissful  paths  away 
The  double-tongued  are  sure  to  stray; 
Good  is  a  forth-right  journey  still, 
And  mazy  paths  but  lead  to  ill. 

"Wieland"  is  the  first  American  novel.  It  appeared  in  1798; 
its  author  was  soon  recognized  as  the  earliest  American  novelist; 
and  he  remained  the  greatest,  until  Fenimore  Cooper  brought  forth 
his  Leather-stocking  Tales,  a  quarter  of  a  century  later. 

Although  modern  sophistication  easily  points  out  flaws  in 
Charles  Brockden  Brown's  story-structure,  and  reproves  him  for 
improbability,  morbidness,  and  a  style  often  too  elevated,  yet  his 
work  lives.  His  downright  originality  is  worthy  of  Cooper  himself, 
and  his  weird  imaginations  and  horribly  sustained  scenes  of  terror 
have  been  surpassed  by  few  writers  save  Edgar  Allan  Poe. 


Charles  Brockden  Brown 


JVi eland's  Madness 

As  the  story  opens,  the  narratress,  Clara  Wieland,  is  entering 
upon  the  happy  reaUzation  of  her  love  for  Henry  Pleyel,  closest 
friend  of  her  brother  "Wieland." 

Their  woodland  home,  Mettingen,  on  the  banks  of  the  then  re- 
mote Schuylkill,  is  the  abode  of  music,  letters  and  thorough  cul- 
ture. The  peace  of  high  thinking  and  simple  outdoor  life  hovers 
over  all. 

(^NE  sunny  afternoon  I  was  standing  in  the  door  of  my 
house,  when  I  marked  a  person  passing  close  to  the 
edge  of  the  bank  that  was  in  front.  His  pace  was  a  care- 
less and  lingering  one,  and  had  none  of  that  gracefulness 
and  ease  which  distinguish  a  person  with  certain  advantages 
of  education  from  a  clown.  His  gait  was  rustic  and  awk- 
ward. His  form  was  ungainly  and  disproportioned.  Shoul- 
ders broad  and  square,  breast  sunken,  his  head  drooping, 
his  body  of  uniform  breadth,  supported  by  long  and  lank 
legs,  were  the  ingredients  of  his  frame.  His  garb  was  not 
ill  adapted  to  such  a  figure.  A  slouched  hat,  tarnished  by 
the  weather,  a  coat  of  thick  gray  cloth,  cut  and  wrought, 
as  it  seemed,  by  a  country  tailor,  blue  worsted  stockings, 
and  shoes  fastened  by  thongs  and  deeply  discolored  by 
dust,  which  brush  had  never  disturbed,  constituted  his 

There  was  nothing  remarkable  in  these  appearances :  they 
were  frequently  to  be  met  with  on  the  road  and  in  the 
harvest-field.  I  cannot  tell  why  I  gazed  upon  them,  on 
this  occasion,  with  more  than  ordinary  attention,  unless  it 


American  Mystery  Stories 

were  that  such  figures  were  seldom  seen  by  me  except  on 
the  road  or  field.  This  lawn  was  only  traversed  by  men 
whose  views  were  directed  to  the  pleasures  of  the  walk  or 
the  grandeur  of  the  scenery. 

He  passed  slowly  along,  frequently  pausing,  as  if  to  ex- 
amine the  prospect  more  deliberately,  but  never  turning 
his  eye  toward  the  house,  so  as  to  allow  me  a  view  of  his 
countenance.  Presently  he  entered  a  copse  at  a  small  dis- 
tance, and  disappeared.  My  eye  followed  him  while  he 
remained  in  sight.  If  his  image  remained  for  any  dura- 
tion in  my  fancy  after  his  departure,  it  was  because  no 
other  object  occurred  sufficient  to  expel  it. 

I  continued  in  the  same  spot  for  half  an  hour,  vaguely, 
and  by  fits,,  contemplating  the  image  of  this  wanderer,  and 
drawing  from  outward  appearances  those  inferences,  with 
respect  to  the  intellectual  history  of  this  person,  which  ex- 
perience affords  us.  I  reflected  on  the  alliance  which  com- 
monly subsists  between  ignorance  and  the  practice  of  agri- 
culture, and  indulged  myself  in  airy  speculations  as  to  the 
influence  of  progressive  knowledge  in  dissolving  this  alli- 
ance and  embodying  the  dreams  of  the  poets.  I  asked  why 
the  plow  and  the  hoe  might  not  become  the  trade  of  every 
human  being,  and  how  this  trade  might  be  made  conducive 
to,  or  at  least  consistent  with,  the  acquisition  of  wisdom  and 

Weary  with  these  reflections,  I  returned  to  the  kitchen  to 
perform  some  household  office.  I  had  usually  but  one  serv- 
ant, and  she  was  a  girl  about  my  own  age.  I  was  busy 
near  the  chimney,  and  she  was  employed  near  the  door  of 
the  apartment,  when  some  one  knocked.  The  door  was 
opened  by  her,  and  she  was  immediately  addressed  with, 
"  Prythee,  good  girl,  canst  thou  supply  a  thirsty  man  with 
a  glass  of  buttermilk?  "  She  answered  that  there  was  none 
in  the  house.  "  Aye,  but  there  is  some  in  the  dairy  yonder. 
Thou  knowest  as  well  as  I,  though  Hermes  never  taught 
thee,  that,  though  every  dairy  be  a  house,  every  house  is 
not  a  dairy."  To  this  speech,  though  she  understood  only 
a  part  of  it,  she  replied  by  repeating  her  assurances  that 


Charles  Brockdcn  Brozvn 

she  had  none  to  give.  "  Well,  then,"  rejoined  the  stranger, 
"  for  charity's  sweet  sake,  hand  me  forth  a  cup  of  cold 
water."  The  girl  said  she  would  go  to  the  spring  and 
fetch  it.  "  Nay,  give  me  the  cup,  and  suffer  me  to  help 
myself.  Neither  manacled  nor  lame,  I  should  merit  burial 
in  the  maw  of  carrion  crows  if  I  laid  this  task  upon  thee." 
She  gave  him  the  cup,  and  he  turned  to  go  to  the  spring. 

I  listened  to  this  dialogue  in  silence.  The  words  ut- 
tered by  the  person  without  affected  me  as  somewhat 
singular;  but  what  chiefly  rendered  them  remarkable  was 
the  tone  that  accompanied  them.  It  was  wholly  new.  My 
brother's  voice  and  Pleyel's  were  musical  and  energetic. 
I  had  fondly  imagined  that,  in  this  respect,  they  were  sur- 
passed by  none.  Now  my  mistake  was  detected.  I  cannot 
pretend  to  communicate  the  impression  that  was  made  upon 
me  by  these  accents,  or  to  depict  the  degree  in  which  force 
and  sweetness  were  blended  in  them.  They  were  articu- 
lated with  a  distinctness  that  was  unexampled  in  my  experi- 
ence. But  this  was  not  all.  The  voice  was  not  only  mel- 
lifluent and  clear,  but  the  emphasis  was  so  just,  and  the 
modulation  so  impassioned,  that  it  seemed  as  if  a  heart  of 
stone  could  not  fail  of  being  moved  by  it.  It  imparted 
to  me  an  emotion  altogether  involuntary  and  uncontrollable. 
When  he  uttered  the  words,  "  for  charity's  sweet  sake,"  I 
dropped  the  cloth  that  I  held  in  my  hand;  my  heart  over- 
flowed with  sympathy  and  my  eyes  with  unbidden  tears. 

This  description  will  appear  to  you  trifling  or  incredi- 
ble. The  importance  of  these  circumstances  will  be  mani- 
fested in  the  sequel.  The  manner  in  which  I  was  affected 
on  this  occasion  was,  to  my  own  apprehension,  a  subject 
of  astonishment.  The  tones  were  indeed  such  as  I  never 
heard  before;  but  that  they  should  in  an  instant,  as  it 
were,  dissolve  me  in  tears,  will  not  easily  be  believed  by 
others,  and  can  scarcely  be  comprehended  by  myself. 

It  will  be  readily  supposed  that  I  was  somewhat  inquisi- 
tive as  to  the  person  and  demeanor  of  our  visitant.  After 
a  moment's  pause,  I  stepped  to  the  door  and  looked  after 
him.    Judge  my  surprise  when  I  beheld  the  selfsame  figure 


American  Mystery  Stories 

that  had  appeared  a  half-hour  before  upon  the  bank.  My 
fancy  had  conjured  up  a  very  different  image.  A  form 
and  attitude  and  garb  were  instantly  created  worthy  to 
accompany  such  elocution;  but  this  person  was,  in  all  visible 
respects,  the  reverse  of  this  phantom.  Strange  as  it  may 
seem,  I  could  not  speedily  reconcile  myself  to  this  disap- 
pointment. Instead  of  returning  to  my  employment,  I 
threw  myself  in  a  chair  that  was  placed  opposite  the  door, 
and  sunk  into  a  fit  of  musing. 

My  attention  was  in  a  few  minutes  recalled  by  the 
stranger,  who  returned  with  the  empty  cup  in  his  hand. 
I  had  not  thought  of  the  circumstance,  or  should  cer- 
tainly have  chosen  a  different  seat.  He  no  sooner  showed 
himself,  than  a  confused  sense  of  impropriety,  added  to 
the  suddenness  of  the  interview,  for  which,  not  having 
foreseen  it,  I  had  made  no  preparation,  threw  me  into  a 
state  of  the  most  painful  embarrassment.  He  brought 
with  him  a  placid  brow;  but  no  sooner  had  he  cast  his 
eyes  upon  me  than  his  face  was  as  glowingly  suffused  as 
my  own.  He  placed  the  cup  upon  the  bench,  stammered 
out  thanks,  and  retired. 

It  was  some  time  before  I  could  recover  my  wonted 
composure.  I  had  snatched  a  view  of  the  stranger's  coun- 
tenance. The  impression  that  it  made  was  vivid  and  in- 
delible. His  cheeks  were  palHd  and  lank,  his  eyes  sunken, 
his  forehead  overshadowed  by  coarse  straggling  hairs,  his 
teeth  large  and  irregular,  though  sound  and  brilliantly 
white,  and  his  chin  discolored  by  a  tetter.  His  skin  was 
of  coarse  grain  and  sallow  hue.  Every  feature  was  wide  of 
beauty,  and  the  outline  of  his  face  reminded  you  of  an 
inverted  cone. 

And  yet  his  forehead,  so  far  as  shaggy  locks  would  allow 
it  to  be  seen,  his  eyes  lustrously  black,  and  possessing,  in 
the  midst  of  haggardness,  a  radiance  inexpressibly  serene 
and  potent,  and  something  in  the  rest  of  his  features  which 
it  would  be  in  vain  to  describe,  but  which  served  to  be- 
token a  mind  of  the  highest  order,  were  essential  ingre- 
dients in  the  portrait.    This,  in  the  effects  which  immedi- 


Charles  Brockdcn  Brown 

ately  flowed  from  it,  I  count  among  the  most  extraordinary 
incidents  of  my  life.  This  face,  seen  for  a  moment,  con- 
tinued for  hours  to  occupy  my  fancy,  to  the  exckision  of 
almost  every  other  image.  I  had  proposed  to  spend  the 
evening  with  my  brother;  but  I  could  not  resist  the  inclina- 
tion of  forming  a  sketch  upon  paper  of  this  memorable 
visage.  Whether  my  hand  was  aided  by  any  peculiar  in- 
spiration, or  I  was  deceived  by  my  own  fond  conceptions, 
this  portrait,  though  hastily  executed,  appeared  unexcep- 
tionable to  my  own  taste. 

I  placed  it  at  all  distances  and  in  all  lights;  my  eyes 
were  riveted  upon  it.  Half  the  night  passed  away  in  wake- 
fulness and  in  contemplation  of  this  picture.  So  flexible, 
and  yet  so  stubborn,  is  the  human  mind!  So  obedient  to 
impulses  the  most  transient  and  brief,  and  yet  so  unalter- 
ably observant  of  the  direction  which  is  given  to  it!  How 
little  did  I  then  foresee  the  termination  of  that  chain  of 
which  this  may  be  regarded  as  the  first  link! 

Next  day  arose  in  darkness  and  storm.  Torrents  of 
rain  fell  during  the  whole  day,  attended  with  incessant 
thunder,  which  reverberated  in  stunning  echoes  from  the 
opposite  declivity.  The  inclemency  of  the  air  would  not 
allow  me  to  walk  out.  I  had,  indeed,  no  inclination  to 
leave  my  apartment.  I  betook  myself  to  the  contempla- 
tion of  this  portrait,  whose  attractions  time  had  rather 
enhanced  than  diminished.  I  laid  aside  my  usual  occu- 
pations, and,  seating  myself  at  a  window,  consumed  the 
day  in  alternately  looking  out  upon  the  storm  and  gazing 
at  the  picture  which  lay  upon  a  table  before  me.  You 
will  perhaps  deem  this  conduct  somewhat  singular,  and 
ascribe  it  to  certain  peculiarities  of  temper.  I  am  not  aware 
of  any  such  peculiarities.  I  can  account  for  my  devotion 
to  this  image  no  otherwise  than  by  supposing  that  its 
properties  were  rare  and  prodigious.  Perhaps  you  will 
suspect  that  such  were  the  first  inroads  of  a  passion  inci- 
dent to  every  female  heart,  and  which  frequently  gains  a 
footing  by  means  even  more  slight  and  more  improbable 
than  these.     I  shall  not  controvert  the  reasonableness  of 


American  Mystery  Slorics 

the  suspicion,  but  leave  you  at  liberty  to  draw  from  my 
narrative  what  conclusions  you  please. 

Night  at  length  returned,  and  the  storm  ceased.  The 
air  was  once  more  clear  and  calm,  and  bore  an  affecting 
contrast  to  that  uproar  of  the  elements  by  which  it  had 
been  preceded.  I  spent  the  darksome  hours,  as  I  spent 
the  day,  contemplative  and  seated  at  the  window.  Why 
Avas  my  mind  absorbed  in  thoughts  ominous  and  dreary  ? 
Why  did  my  bosom  heave  with  sighs  and  my  eyes  over- 
flow with  tears?  Was  the  tempest  that  had  just  passed 
a  signal  of  the  ruin  which  impended  over  me?  My  soul 
fondly  dwelt  upon  the  images  of  my  brother  and  his  chil- 
dren; yet  they  only  increased  the  mournfulness  of  my  con- 
templations. The  smiles  of  the  charming  babes  were  as 
bland  as  formerly.  The  same  dignity  sat  on  the  brow  of 
their  father,  and  yet  I  thought  of  them  with  anguish. 
Something  whispered  that  the  happiness  we  at  present  en- 
joyed was  set  on  mutable  foundations.  Death  must  hap- 
pen to  all.  Whether  our  felicity  was  to  be  subverted  by 
it  to-morrow,  or  whether  it  was  ordained  that  we  should 
lay  down  our  heads  full  of  years  and  of  honor,  was  a  ques- 
tion that  no  human  being  could  solve.  At  other  times  these 
ideas  seldom  intruded.  I  either  forbore  to  reflect  upon 
the  destiny  that  is  reserved  for  all  men,  or  the  reflection 
was  mixed  up  with  images  that  disrobed  it  of  terror;  but 
now  the  uncertainty  of  life  occurred  to  me  without  any  of 
its  usual  and  alleviating  accompaniments.  I  said  to  myself. 
We  must  die.  Sooner  or  later,  we  must  disappear  forever 
from  the  face  of  the  earth.  Whatever  be  the  links  that 
hold  us  to  life,  they  must  be  broken.  This  scene  of  exist- 
ence is,  in  all  its  parts,  calamitous.  The  greater  number 
is  oppressed  with  immediate  evils,  and  those  the  tide  of 
whose  fortunes  is  full,  how  small  is  their  portion  of  enjoy^ 
ment,  since  they  know  that  it  will  terminate! 

For  some  time  I  indulged  myself,  without  reluctance, 
in  these  gloomy  thoughts;  but  at  length  the  dejection 
which  they  produced  became  insupportably  painful.  I  en- 
deavored to  dissipate  it  with  music.     I  had  all  my  grand- 


Charles  Brockdcn  Brown 

father's  melody  as  well  as  poetry  by  rote.  I  now  lighted 
by  chance  on  a  ballad  which  commemorated  the  fate  of  a 
German  cavalier  who  fell  at  the  siege  of  Nice  under  God- 
frey of  Bouillon.  My  choice  was  unfortunate ;  for  the  scenes 
of  violence  and  carnage  which  were  here  wildly  but  for- 
cibly portrayed  only  suggested  to  my  thoughts  a  new  topic 
in  the  horrors  of  war. 

I  sought  refuge,  but  ineffectually,  in  sleep.  My  mind 
was  thronged  by  vivid  but  confused  images,  and  no  effort 
that  I  made  vv'as  sufficient  to  drive  them  away.  In  this 
situation  I  heard  the  clock,  which  hung  hi  the  room,  give 
the  signal  for  twelve.  It  was  the  same  instrument  which 
formerly  hung  in  my  father's  chamber,  and  which,  on  ac- 
count of  its  being  his  workmanship,  was  regarded  by  every- 
one of  our  family  with  veneration.  It  had  fallen  to  me 
in  the  division  of  his  property,  and  was  placed  in  this  asy- 
lum. The  sound  awakened  a  series  of  reflections  respect- 
ing his  death.  I  was  not  allowed  to  pursue  them ;  for 
scarcely  had  the  vibrations  ceased,  when  my  attention  was 
attracted  by  a  whisper,  which,  at  first,  appeared  to  proceed 
from  lips  that  were  laid  close  to  my  ear. 

No  wonder  that  a  circumstance  like  this  startled  me. 
In  the  first  impulse  of  my  terror,  I  uttered  a  slight  scream 
and  shrunk  to  the  opposite  side  of  the  bed.  In  a  moment, 
however,  I  recovered  from  my  trepidation.  I  was  habitu- 
ally indifferent  to  all  the  causes  of  fear  by  which  the  ma- 
jority are  afflicted.  I  entertained  no  apprehension  of 
either  ghosts  or  robbers.  Our  security  had  never  been 
molested  by  either,  and  I  made  use  of  no  means  to  pre- 
vent or  counterwork  their  machinations.  My  tranquillity 
on  this  occasion  was  quickly  retrieved.  The  whisper  evi- 
dently proceeded  from  one  who  was  posted  at  my  bedside. 
The  first  idea  that  suggested  itself  was  that  it  was  uttered 
by  the  girl  who  lived  with  me  as  a  servant.  Perhaps  some- 
what had  alarmed  her,  or  she  was  sick,  and  had  come  to 
request  my  assistance.  By  whispering  in  my  ear  she  in- 
tended to  rouse  without  alarming  me. 

Full   of  this   persuasion,    I    called,   "Judith,    is   it   you? 


American  Mystery  Stories 

What  do  you  want?  Is  there  anything  the  matter  with 
you?"  No  answer  was  returned.  I  repeated  my  inquiry, 
but  equally  in  vain.  Cloudy  as  was  the  atmosphere,  and 
curtained  as  my  bed  was,  nothing  was  visible.  I  withdrew 
the  curtain,  and,  leaning  my  head  on  my  elbow,  I  listened 
with  the  deepest  attention  to  catch  some  new  sound. 
Meanwhile,  I  ran  over  in  my  thoughts  every  circumstance 
that  could  assist  my  conjectures. 

My  habitation  was  a  wooden  edifice,  consisting  of  two 
stories.  In  each  story  were  two  rooms,  separated  by  an 
entry,  or  middle  passage,  with  which  they  communicated 
by  opposite  doors.  The  passage  on  the  lower  story  had 
doors  at  the  two  ends,  and  a  staircase.  Windows  answered 
to  the  doors  on  the  upper  story.  Annexed  to  this,  on 
the  eastern  side,  were  wings,  divided  in  like  manner  into 
an  upper  and  lower  room;  one  of  them  comprised  a  kitchen, 
and  chamber  above  it  for  the  servant,  and  communicated 
on  both  stories  with  the  parlor  adjoining  it  below  and  the 
chamber  adjoining  it  above.  The  opposite  wing  is  of 
smaller  dimensions,  the  rooms  not  being  above  eight  feet 
square.  The  lower  of  these  was  used  as  a  depository  of 
household  implements;  the  upper  was  a  closet  in  which  I 
deposited  my  books  and  papers.  They  had  but  one  inlet, 
which  was  from  the  room  adjoining.  There  was  no  window 
in  the  lower  one,  and  in  the  upper  a  small  aperture  which 
communicated  light  and  air,  but  would  scarcely  admit  the 
body.  The  door  which  led  into  this  was  close  to  my  bed 
head,  and  was  always  locked  but  when  I  myself  was  within. 
The  avenues  below  were  accustomed  to  be  closed  and 
bolted  at  nights. 

The  maid  was  my  only  companion;  and  she  could  not 
reach  my  chamber  without  previously  passing  through  the 
opposite  chamber  and  the  middle  passage,  of  which,  how- 
ever, the  doors  were  usually  unfastened.  If  she  had  oc- 
casioned this  noise,  she  would  have  answered  my  repeated 
calls.  No  other  conclusion,  therefore,  was  left  me,  but 
that  I  had  mistaken  the  sounds,  and  that  my  imagination 
had  transformed   some   casual  noise  into  the  voice   of  a 


Charles  Brockden  Brown 

human  creature.  Satisfied  with  this  solution,  I  was  pre- 
paring to  relinquish  my  listening  attitude,  when  my  ear 
was  again  saluted  with  a  new  and  yet  louder  whispering. 
It  appeared,  as  before,  to  issue  from  lips  that  touched  my 
pillow.  A  second  effort  of  attention,  however,  clearly 
showed  me  that  the  sounds  issued  from  within  the  closet, 
the  door  of  which  was  not  more  than  eight  inches  from  my 

This  second  interruption  occasioned  a  shock  less  vehe- 
ment than  the  former.  I  started,  but  gave  no  audible  token 
of  alarm.  I  was  so  much  mistress  of  my  feelings  as  to 
continue  listening  to  what  should  be  said.  The  whisper 
was  distinct,  hoarse,  and  uttered  so  as  to  show  that  the 
speaker  was  desirous  of  being  heard  by  some  one  near,  but, 
at  the  same  time,  studious  to  avoid  being  overheard  by 
any  other: — 

"  Stop!  stop,  I  say,  madman  as  you  are!  there  are  better 
means  than  that.  Curse  upon  your  rashness!  There  is  no 
need  to  shoot." 

Such  were  the  words  uttered,  in  a  tone  of  eagerness  and 
anger,  within  so  small  a  distance  of  my  pillow.  What  con- 
struction could  I  put  upon  them?  My  heart  began  to  pal- 
pitate with  dread  of  some  unknown  danger.  Presently, 
another  voice,  but  equally  near  me,  was  heard  whispering 
in  answer,  "  Why  not?  I  will  draw  a  trigger  in  this  busi- 
ness ;  but  perdition  be  my  lot  if  I  do  more !  "  To  this  the 
first  voice  returned,  in  a  tone  which  rage  had  heightened 
in  a  small  degree  above  a  whisper,  "  Coward!  stand  aside, 
and  see  me  do  it.  I  will  grasp  her  throat;  I  will  do  her 
business  in  an  instant;  she  shall  not  have  time  so  much  as 
to  groan."  What  wonder  that  I  was  petrified  by  sounds 
so  dreadful!  Murderers  lurked  in  my  closet.  They  were 
planning  the  means  of  my  destruction.  One  resolved  to 
shoot,  and  the  other  menaced  suffocation.  Their  means 
being  chosen,  they  would  forthwith  break  the  door.  Flight 
instantly  suggested  itself  as  most  eligible  in  circumstances 
so  perilous.  I  deliberated  not  a  moment;  but,  fear  adding 
wings  to  my  speed,  I  leaped  out  of  bed,  and,  scantily  robed 


American  Mystery  Stories 

as  I  was,  rushed  out  of  the  chamber,  downstairs,  and  into 
the  open  air,  I  can  hardly  recollect  the  process  of  turn- 
ing keys  and  withdrawing  bolts.  My  terrors  urged  me 
forward  with  almost  a  mechanical  impulse.  I  stopped  not 
till  I  reached  my  brother's  door.  I  had  not  gained  the 
threshold,  when,  exhausted  by  the  violence  of  my  emotions 
and  by  my  speed,  I  sunk  down  in  a  fit. 

How  long  I  remained  in  this  situation  I  know  not. 
When  I  recovered,  I  found  myself  stretched  on  a  bed, 
surrounded  by  my  sister  and  her  female  servants.  I  was 
astonished  at  the  scene  before  me,  but  gradually  recovered 
the  recollection  of  what  had  happened.  I  answered  their 
importunate  inquiries  as  well  as  I  was  able.  My  brother 
and  Pleyel,  whom  the  storm  of  the  preceding  day  chanced 
to  detain  here,  informing  themselves  of  every  particular, 
proceeded  with  lights  and  weapons  to  my  deserted  habi- 
tation. They  entered  my  chamber  and  my  closet,  and  found 
everything  in  its  proper  place  and  customary  order.  The 
door  of  the  closet  was  locked,  and  appeared  not  to  have 
been  opened  in  m.y  absence.  They  went  to  Judith's  apart- 
ment. They  found  her  asleep  and  in  safety.  Pleyel's  cau- 
tion induced  him  to  forbear  alarming  the  girl;  and,  finding 
her  wholly  ignorant  of  what  had  passed,  they  directed  her 
to  return  to  her  chamber.  They  then  fastened  the  doors 
and  returned. 

My  friends  were  disposed  to  regard  this  transaction  as 
a  dream.  That  persons  should  be  actually  immured  in 
this  closet,  to  which,  in  the  circumstances  of  the  time, 
access  from  without  or  within  was  apparently  impossible, 
they  could  not  seriously  believe.  That  any  human  beings 
had  intended  murder,  unless  it  were  to  cover  a  scheme  of 
pillage,  was  incredible;  but  that  no  such  design  had  been 
formed  was  evident  from  the  security  in  which  the  furni- 
ture of  the  house  and  the  closet  remained. 

I  revolved  every  incident  and  expression  that  had  oc- 
curred. My  senses  assured  me  of  the  truth  of  them;  and 
yet  their  abruptness  and  improbability  made  me,  in  my 
turn,  somewhat  incredulous.     The  adventure  had  made  a 


Charles  Brockdcn  Brown 

deep  impression  on  my  fancy;  and  it  was  not  till  after  a 
week's  abode  at  my  brother's  that  I  resolved  to  resume  the 
possession  of  my  own  dwelling. 

There  was  another  circumstance  that  enhanced  the  mys- 
teriousness  of  this  event.  After  my  recovery,  it  was  ob- 
vious to  inquire  by  what  means  the  attention  of  the  family 
had  been  drawn  to  my  situation.  I  had  fallen  before  I 
had  reached  the  threshold  or  was  able  to  give  any  signal. 
My  brother  related  that,  while  this  was  transacting  in  my 
chamber,  he  himself  was  awake,  in  consequence  of  some 
slight  indisposition,  and  lay,  according  to  his  custom,  mus- 
ing on  some  favorite  topic.  Suddenly  the  silence,  which 
was  remarkably  profound,  was  broken  by  a  voice  of  most 
piercing  shrillness,  that  seemed  to  be  uttered  by  one  in  the 
hall  below  his  chamber.  "Awake!  arise!"  it  exclaimed; 
"  hasten  to  succor  one  that  is  dying  at  your  door!  " 

This  summons  was  effectual.  There  was  no  one  in  the 
house  who  was  not  roused  by  it.  Pleyel  was  the  first  to 
obey,  and  my  brother  overtook  him  before  he  reached  the 
hall.  What  was  the  general  astonishment  when  your  friend 
was  discovered  stretched  upon  the  grass  before  the  door, 
pale,  ghastly,  and  with  every  mark  of  death! 

But  how  was  I  to  regard  this  midnight  conversation? 
Hoarse  and  manlike  voices  conferring  on  the  means  of 
death,  so  near  my  bed,  and  at  such  an  hour!  How  had 
my  ancient  security  vanished!  That  dwelling  which  had 
hitherto  been  an  inviolate  asylum  was  now  beset  with  dan- 
ger to  my  life.  That  solitude  formerly  so  dear  to  me  could 
no  longer  be  endured.  Pleyel,  who  had  consented  to  reside 
with  us  during  the  months  of  spring,  lodged  in  the  vacant 
chamber,  in  order  to  quiet  my  alarms.  He  treated  my 
fears  with  ridicule,  and  in  a  short  time  very  slight  traces 
of  them  remained;  but,  as  it  was  wholly  indifferent  to  him 
whether  his  nights  were  passed  at  my  house  or  at  my 
brother's,  this  arrangement  gave  general  satisfaction. 


American  Mystery  Stories 


I  WILL  enumerate  the  various  inquiries  and  conjectures 
which  these  incidents  occasioned.  After  all  our  efforts,  we 
came  no  nearer  to  dispelling  the  mist  in  which  they  were 
involved ;  and  time,  instead  of  facilitating  a  solution,  only 
accumulated  our  doubts. 

In  the  midst  of  thoughts  excited  by  these  events,  I  was 
not  unmindful  of  my  interview  with  the  stranger.  I  related 
the  particulars,  and  showed  the  portrait  to  my  friends. 
Pleyel  recollected  to  have  met  with  a  figure  resembling  my 
description  in  the  city ;  but  neither  his  face  or  garb  made 
the  same  impression  upon  him  that  it  made  upon  me.  It 
was  a  hint  to  rally  me  upon  my  prepossessions,  and  to  amuse 
us  with  a  thousand  ludicrous  anecdotes  which  he  had  col- 
lected in  his  travels.  He  made  no  scruple  to  charge  me 
with  being  in  love ;  and  threatened  to  inform  the  swain, 
when  he  met  him,  of  his  good  fortune. 

Pleyel's  temper  made  him  susceptible  of  no  durable  im- 
pressions. His  conversation  was  occasionally  visited  by 
gleams  of  his  ancient  vivacity ;  but,  though  his  impetuosity 
was  sometimes  inconvenient,  there  was  nothing  to  dread 
from  his  malice.  I  had  no  fear  that  my  character  or  dignity 
would  suffer  in  his  hands,  and  was  not  heartily  displeased 
when  he  declared  his  intention  of  profiting  by  his  first  meet- 
ing with  the  stranger  to  introduce  him  to  our  acquaintance. 

Some  weeks  after  this  I  had  spent  a  toilsome  day,  and, 
as  the  sun  declined,  found  myself  disposed  to  seek  relief  in 
a  walk.  The  river  bank  is,  at  this  part  of  it  and  for  some 
considerable  space  upward,  so  rugged  and  steep  as  not  to 
be  easily  descended.  In  a  recess  of  this  declivity,  near  the 
southern  verge  of  my  little  demesne,  was  placed  a  slight 
building,  with  seats  and  lattices.  From  a  crevice  of  the  rock 
to  which  this  edifice  was  attached  there  burst  forth  a  stream 
of  the  purest  water,  which,  leaping  from  ledge  to  ledge  for 
the  space  of  sixty  feet,  produced  a  freshness  in  the  air,  and 
a   rriurmur,   the   most   delicious   and    soothing  imaginable. 


Charles  Brockdcn  Brozvn 

These,  adi.led  to  the  odors  of  the  cedars  which  embowered 
it,  and  of  the  honeysuckle  which  clustered  among  the  lat- 
tices, rendered  this  my  favorite  retreat  in  summer. 

On  this  occasion  I  repaired  hither.  My  spirits  drooped 
through  the  fatigue  of  long  attention,  and  I  threw  myself 
upon  a  bench,  in  a  state,  both  mentally  and  personally,  of 
the  utmost  supineness.  The  lulling  sounds  of  the  water- 
fall, the  fragrance,  and  the  dusk,  combined  to  becalm  my 
spirits,  and,  in  a  short  time,  to  sink  me  into  sleep.  Either 
the  uneasiness  of  my  posture,  or  some  slight  indisposition, 
molested  my  repose  with  dreams  of  no  cheerful  hue.  After 
various  incoherences  had  taken  their  turn  to  occupy  my 
fancy,  I  at  length  imagined  myself  walking,  in  the  evening 
twilight,  to  my  brother's  habitation.  A  pit,  methought,  had 
been  dug  in  the  path  I  had  taken,  of  which  I  was  not  aware. 
As  I  carelessly  pursued  my  walk,  I  thought  I  saw  my 
brother  standing  at  some  distance  before  me,  beckoning  and 
calling  me  to  make  haste.  He  stood  on  the  opposite  edge 
of  the  gulf.  I  mended  my  pace,  and  one  step  more  would 
have  plunged  me  into  this  abyss,  had  not  some  one  from 
behind  caught  suddenly  my  arm,  and  exclaimed,  in  a  voice 
of  eagerness  and  terror,  "  Hold !  hold !  " 

The  sound  broke  my  sleep,  and  I  found  myself,  at  the 
next  moment,  standing  on  my  feet,  and  surrounded  by  the 
deepest  darkness.  Images  so  terrific  and  forcible  disabled 
me  for  a  time  from  distinguishing  between  sleep  and  wake- 
fulness, and  withheld  from  me  the  knowledge  of  my  actual 
condition.  My  first  panic  was  succeeded  by  the  perturba- 
tions of  surprise  to  find  myself  alone  in  the  open  air  and 
immersed  in  so  deep  a  gloom.  I  slowly  recollected  the  in- 
cidents of  the  afternoon,  and  how  I  came  hither.  I  could 
not  estimate  the  time,  but  saw  the  propriety  of  returning 
with  speed  to  the  house.  My  faculties  were  still  too  con- 
fused, and  the  darkness  too  intense,  to  allow  me  immedi- 
ately to  find  my  way  up  the  steep.  I  sat  down,  therefore, 
to  recover  myself,  and  to  reflect  upon  my  situation. 

This  was  no  sooner  done,  than  a  low  voice  was  heard 
from  behind  the  lattice,  on  the  side  where  I  sat.     Between 


American  Mystery  Stories 

the  rock  and  the  lattice  was  a  chasm  not  wide  enough  to 
admit  a  human  body ;  yet  in  this  chasm  he  that  spoke  ap- 
peared to  be  stationed,  "  Attend !  attend !  but  be  not  ter- 

I  started,  and  exclaimed,  "  Good  heavens !  what  is  that  ? 
Who  are  you  ?  " 

"  A  friend ;  one  come  not  to  injure  but  to  save  you :  fear 

This  voice  was  immediately  recognized  to  be  the  same 
with  one  of  those  which  I  had  heard  in  the  closet ;  it  was 
the  voice  of  him  who  had  proposed  to  shoot  rather  than  to 
strangle  his  victim.  My  terror  made  me  at  once  mute  and 
motionless.  He  continued,  "  I  leagued  to  murder  you.  I 
repent.  Mark  my  bidding,  and  be  safe.  Avoid  this  spot. 
The  snares  of  death  encompass  it.  Elsewhere  danger  will 
be  distant ;  but  this  spot,  shun  it  as  you  value  your  life. 
Mark  me  further :  profit  by  this  warning,  but  divulge  it  not. 
If  a  syllable  of  what  has  passed  escape  you,  your  doom  is 
sealed.    Remember  your  father,  and  be  faithful." 

Here  the  accents  ceased,  and  left  me  overwhelmed  with 
dismay,  I  was  fraught  with  the  persuasion  that  during 
every  moment  I  remained  here  my  life  was  endangered ;  but 
I  could  not  take  a  step  without  hazard  of  falling  to  the  bot- 
tom of  the  precipice.  The  path  leading  to  the  summit  was 
short,  but  rugged  and  intricate.  Even  starlight  was  ex- 
cluded by  the  umbrage,  and  not  the  faintest  gleam  was  af- 
forded to  guide  my  steps.  What  should  I  do?  To  depart 
or  remain  was  equally  and  eminently  perilous. 

In  this  state  of  uncertainty,  I  perceived  a  ray  flit  across 
the  gloom  and  disappear.  Another  succeeded,  which  was 
stronger,  and  remained  for  a  passing  moment.  It  glittered 
on  the  shrubs  that  were  scattered  at  the  entrance,  and  gleam 
continued  to  succeed  gleam  for  a  few  seconds,  till  they 
finally  gave  place  to  unintermitted  darkness. 

The  first  visitings  of  this  light  called  up  a  train  of  horrors 
in  mv  mind ;  destruction  impended  over  this  spot ;  the  voice 
v.-hich  I  had  lately  heard  had  warned  me  to  retire,  and  had 
menaced  me  with  the  fate  of  my  father  if  I  refused.    I  was 


Charles  Brockden  Brown 

desirous,  but  unable  to  obey;  these  gleams  were  such  as 
preluded  the  stroke  by  which  he  fell ;  the  hour,  perhaps,  was 
the  same.  I  shuddered  as  if  I  had  beheld  suspended  over 
me  the  exterminating-  sword. 

Presently  a  new  and  stronger  illumination  burst  through 
the  lattice  on  the  right  hand,  and  a  voice  from  the  edge  of 
the  precipice  above  called  out  my  name.  It  was  Pleyel. 
Joyfully  did  I  recognize  his  accents ;  but  such  was  the 
tumult  of  my  thoughts  that  I  had  not  power  to  answer  him 
till  he  had  frequently  repeated  his  summons.  I  hurried  at 
length  from  the  fatal  spot,  and,  directed  by  tlie  lantern  which 
he  bore,  ascended  the  hill. 

Pale  and  breathless,  it  was  with  difficulty  I  could  support 
myself.  He  anxiously  inquired  into  the  cause  of  my  af- 
fright and  the  motive  of  my  unusual  absence.  He  had  re- 
turned from  my  brother's  at  a  late  hour,  and  was  informicd 
by  Judith  that  I  had  walked  out  before  sunset  and  had  not 
yet  returned.  This  intelligence  was  somewhat  alarming. 
He  waited  some  time;  but,  my  absence  continuing,  he  had 
set  out  in  search  of  me.  He  had  explored  the  neighborhood 
with  the  utmost  care,  but,  receiving  no  tidings  of  me,  he 
was  preparing  to  acquaint  my  brother  with  this  circumstance, 
when  he  recollected  the  summer-house  on  the  bank,  and 
conceived  it  possible  that  some  accident  had  detained  me 
there.  He  again  inquired  into  the  cause  of  this  deten- 
tion, and  of  that  confusion  and  dismay  which  my  looks 

I  told  him  that  I  had  strolled  hither  in  the  afternoon,  that 
sleep  had  overtaken  me  as  I  sat,  and  that  I  had  awakened 
a  few  minutes  before  his  arrival.  I  could  tell  him  no  more. 
In  the  present  impetuosity  of  my  thoughts,  I  was  almost 
dubious  whether  the  pit  into  which  my  brother  had  en- 
deavored to  entice  me,  and  the  voice  that  talked  through  the 
lattice,  were  not  parts  of  the  same  dream.  I  remembered, 
likewise,  the  charge  of  secrecy,  and  the  penalty  denounced 
if  I  should  rashly  divulge  what  I  had  heard.  For  these 
reasons  I  was  silent  on  that  subject,  and,  shutting  myself 
in  my  chamber,  delivered  myself  up  to  contemplation. 


American  Mystery  Stories 

What  I  have  related  will,  no  doubt,  appear  to  you  a  fable. 
You  will  believe  that  calamity  has  subverted  my  reason,  and 
that  I  am  amusing  you  with  the  chimeras  of  my  brain  in- 
stead of  facts  that  have  really  happened.  I  shall  not  be 
surprised  or  offended  if  these  be  your  suspicions.  I  know 
not,  indeed,  how  you  can  deny  them  admission.  For,  if  to 
me,  the  immediate  witness,  they  were  fertile  of  perplexity 
and  doubt,  how  must  they  affect  another  to  whom  they  are 
recommended  only  by  my  testimony?  It  was  only  by  sub- 
sequent events  that  I  was  fully  and  incontestably  assured  of 
the  veracity  of  my  senses. 

Meanwhile,  what  was  I  to  think?  I  had  been  assured 
that  a  design  had  been  formed  against  my  life.  The  ruffians 
had  leagued  to  murder  me.  Whom  had  I  offended?  Who 
was  there,  with  whom  I  had  ever  maintained  intercourse, 
who  was  capable  of  harboring  such  atrocious  purposes  ? 

My  temper  was  the  reverse  of  cruel  and  imperious.  My 
heart  was  touched  with  sympathy  for  the  children  of  mis- 
fortune. But  this  sympathy  was  not  a  barren  sentiment. 
My  purse,  scanty  as  it  was,  was  ever  open,  and  my  hands 
ever  active,  to  relieve  distress.  Many  were  the  wretches 
whom  my  personal  exertions  had  extricated  from  want  and 
disease,  and  who  rewarded  me  with  their  gratitude.  There 
was  no  face  which  lowered  at  my  approach,  and  no  lips 
which  uttered  imprecations  in  my  hearing.  On  the  con- 
trary, there  was  none,  over  whose  fate  I  had  exerted  any 
influence  or  to  whom  I  was  known  by  reputation,  who  did 
not  greet  me  with  smiles  and  dismiss  me  with  proofs  of 
veneration :  yet  did  not  my  senses  assure  me  that  a  plot  was 
laid  against  my  Hfe? 

I  am  not  destitute  of  courage.  I  have  shown  myself  de- 
liberative and  calm  in  the  midst  of  peril.  I  have  hazarded 
my  own  life  for  the  preservation  of  another;  but  now  was 
I  confused  and  panic-struck.  I  have  not  lived  so  as  to  fear 
death ;  yet  to  perish  by  an  unseen  and  secret  stroke,  to  be 
mangled  by  the  knife  of  an  assassin,  was  a  thought  at  which 
I  shuddered:  what  had  I  done  to  deserve  to  be  made  the 
victim  of  malignant  passions? 


Charles  Brockdcn  Brown 

But  soft!  was  I  not  assured  that  my  life  was  safe  in  all 
places  but  one?  And  why  was  the  treason  limited  to  take 
effect  in  this  spot?  I  was  everywhere  equally  defenseless. 
My  house  and  chamber  were  at  all  times  accessible.  Danger 
still  impended  over  me ;  the  bloody  purpose  was  still  enter- 
tained, but  the  hand  that  was  to  execute  it  was  powerless 
in  all  places  but  one ! 

Here  I  had  remained  for  the  last  four  or  five  hours,  with- 
out the  means  of  resistance  or  defense;  yet  I  had  not  been 
attacked.  A  human  being  was  at  hand,  who  was  conscious 
of  my  presence,  and  warned  me  hereafter  to  avoid  this  re- 
treat. His  voice  was  not  absolutely  new,  but  had  I  never 
heard  it  but  once  before  ?  But  why  did  he  prohibit  me  from 
relating  this  incident  to  others,  and  what  species  of  death 
will  be  awarded  if  I  disobey? 

Such  were  the  reflections  that  haunted  me  during  the 
night,  and  which  effectually  deprived  me  of  sleep.  Next 
morning,  at  breakfast,  Pleyel  related  an  event  which  my  dis- 
appearance had  hindered  him  from  mentioning  the  night  be- 
fore. Early  the  preceding  morning,  his  occasions  called  him 
to  the  city :  he  had  stepped  into  a  coffee-house  to  while  away 
an  hour;  here  he  had  met  a  person  whose  appearance  in- 
stantly bespoke  him  to  be  the  same  whose  hasty  visit  I  have 
mentioned,  and  whose  extraordinary  visage  and  tones  had 
so  powerfully  affected  me.  On  an  attentive  survey,  how- 
ever, he  proved,  likewise,  to  be  one  with  whom  my  friend 
had  had  some  intercourse  in  Europe.  This  authorized  the 
liberty  of  accosting  him,  and  after  some  conversation,  mind- 
ful, as  Pleyel  said,  of  the  footing  which  this  stranger  had 
gained  in  my  heart,  he  had  ventured  to  invite  him  to  Met- 
tingen.  The  invitation  had  been  cheerfully  accepted,  and  a 
visit  promised  on  the  afternoon  of  the  next  day. 

This  information  excited  no  sober  emotions  in  my  breast. 
I  was,  of  course,  eager  to  be  informed  as  to  the  circum- 
stances of  their  ancient  intercourse.  When  and  where  had 
they  met  ?  What  knew  he  of  the  life  and  character  of  this 

In  answer  to  my  inquiries,  he  informed  me  that,  three 


American  Mystery  Stories 

years  before,  he  was  a  traveler  in  Spain.  He  had  made  an 
excursion  from  Valencia  to  Murviedro,  with  a  view  to  in- 
spect the  remains  of  Roman  magnificence  scattered  in  the 
environs  of  that  town.  While  traversing  the  site  of  the 
theater  of  old  Saguntum,  he  alighted  upon  this  man,  seated 
on  a  stone,  and  deeply  engaged  in  perusing  the  work  of  the 
deacon  Marti.  A  short  conversation  ensued,  which  proved 
the  stranger  to  be  English.  They  returned  to  Valencia  to- 

His  garb,  aspect,  and  deportment  were  wholly  Spanish. 
A  residence  of  three  years  in  the  country,  indefatigable  at- 
tention to  the  language,  and  a  studious  conformity  with  the 
customs  of  the  people,  had  made  him  indistinguishable  from 
a  native  when  he  chose  to  assume  that  character.  Pleyel 
found  him  to  be  connected,  on  the  footing  of  friendship  and 
respect,  with  many  eminent  merchants  in  that  city.  He  had 
embraced  the  Catholic  religion,  and  adopted  a  Spanish  name 
instead  of  his  own,  which  was  Carw^in,  and  devoted  him- 
self to  the  literature  and  religion  of  his  new  country.  He 
pursued  no  profession,  but  subsisted  on  remittances  from 

While  Pleyel  remained  in  Valencia,  Carwin  betrayed  no 
aversion  to  intercourse,  and  the  former  found  no  small  at- 
tractions in  the  society  of  this  new  acquaintance.  On  gen- 
eral topics  he  was  highly  intelligent  and  communicative.  He 
had  visited  every  corner  of  Spain,  and  could  furnish  the 
most  accurate  details  respecting  its  ancient  and  present  state. 
On  topics  of  religion  and  of  his  own  history,  previous  to 
his  transformation  into  a  Spaniard,  he  was  invariably  silent. 
You  could  merely  gather  from  his  disccurse  that  he  was 
English,  and  that  he  was  well  acquainted  with  the  neighbor- 
ing countries. 

His  character  excited  considerable  curiosity  in  the  ob- 
server. It  was  not  easy  to  reconcile  his  conversion  to  the 
Romish  faith  with  those  proofs  of  knowledge  and  capacity 
that  were  exhibited  by  him  on  different  occasions.  A  sus- 
picion was  sometimes  admitted  that  his  belief  was  counter- 
feited for  some  political  purpose.     The  most  careful  ob- 


Charles  Brockdcn  Broivn 

servation,  however,  produced  no  discovery.  His  manners 
were  at  all  times  harmless  and  inartificial,  and  his  habits 
those  of  a  lover  of  contemplation  and  seclusion.  He  ap- 
peared to  have  contracted  an  affection  for  Pleyel,  who  was 
not  slow  to  return  it. 

My  friend,  after  a  month's  residence  in  this  city,  returned 
into  France,  and,  since  that  period,  had  heard  nothing  con- 
cerning Carwin  till  his  appearance  at  Mettingen. 

On  this  occasion  Carwin  had  received  Pleyel's  greeting 
with  a  certain  distance  and  solemnity  to  which  the  latter  had 
not  been  accustomed.  He  had  waived  noticing  the  inquiries 
of  Pleyel  respecting  his  desertion  of  Spain,  in  which  he  had 
formerly  declared  that  it  was  his  purpose  to  spend  his  life. 
He  had  assiduously  diverted  the  attention  of  the  latter  to 
indifferent  topics,  but  was  still,  on  every  theme,  as  eloquent 
and  judicious  as  formerly.  Why  he  had  assumed  the  garb 
of  a  rustic  Pleyel  was  unable  to  conjecture.  Perhaps  it 
might  be  poverty ;  perhaps  he  was  swayed  by  motives  which 
it  was  his  interest  to  conceal,  but  which  were  connected  with 
consequences  of  the  utmost  moment. 

Such  was  the  sum  of  my  friend's  information.  I  was  not 
sorry  to  be  left  alone  during  the  greater  part  of  this  day. 
Every  employment  was  irksome  which  did  not  leave  me  at 
liberty  to  m^editate.  I  had  now  a  new  subject  on  which  to 
exercise  my  thoughts.  Before  evening  I  should  be  ushered 
into  his  presence,  and  listen  to  those  tones  whose  magical 
and  thrilling  power  I  had  already  experienced.  But  with 
what  new  images  would  he  then  be  accompanied? 

Carwin  was  an  adherent  to  the  Romish  faith,  yet  was  an 
Englishman  by  birth,  and,  perhaps,  a  Protestant  by  educa- 
tion. He  had  adopted  Spain  for  his  country,  and  had  inti- 
mated a  design  to  spend  his  days  there,  yet  now  was  an 
inhabitant  of  this  district,  and  disguised  by  the  habiliments 
of  a  clown !  What  could  have  obliterated  the  impressions  of 
his  youth  and  made  him  abjure  his  religion  and  his  country? 
What  subsequent  events  had  introduced  so  total  a  change 
in  his  plans  ?  In  withdrawing  from  Spain,  had  he  reverted 
to  the  religion  of  his  ancestors  ?  or  was  it  true  that  his  f or- 


American  Mystery  Stories 

mer  conversion  was  deceitful,  and  that  his  conduct  had  been 
swayed  by  motives  which  it  was  prudent  to  conceal? 

Hours  were  consumed  in  revolving  these  ideas.  My  medi- 
tations were  intense ;  and,  when  the  series  was  broken,  I 
began  to  reflect  with  astonishment  on  my  situation.  From 
the  death  of  my  parents  till  the  commencement  of  this  year 
my  life  had  been  serene  and  blissful  beyond  the  ordinary 
portion  of  humanity ;  but  now  my  bosom  was  corroded  by 
anxiety.  I  was  visited  by  dread  of  unknown  dangers,  and 
the  future  was  a  scene  over  which  clouds  rolled  and  thun- 
ders muttered.  I  compared  the  cause  with  the  efifect,  and 
they  seemed  disproportioned  to  each  other.  All  unaware, 
and  in  a  manner  which  I  had  no  power  to  explain,  I  was 
pushed  from  my  immovable  and  lofty  station  and  cast  upon 
a  sea  of  troubles. 

I  determined  to  be  my  brother's  visitant  on  this  evening; 
yet  my  resolves  were  not  unattended  with  wavering  and  re- 
luctance. Pleyel's  insinuations  that  I  was  in  love  affected 
in  no  degree  my  belief;  yet  the  consciousness  that  this  was 
the  opinion  of  one  who  would  probably  be  present  at  our 
introduction  to  each  other  would  excite  all  that  confusion 
which  the  passion  itself  is  apt  to  produce.  This  would  con- 
firm him  in  his  error  and  call  forth  new  railleries.  His 
mirth,  when  exerted  upon  this  topic,  was  the  source  of  the 
bitterest  vexation.  Had  he  been  aware  of  its  influence  upon 
my  happiness,  his  temper  would  not  have  allowed  him  to 
persist ;  but  this  influence  it  was  my  chief  endeavor  to  con- 
ceal. That  the  belief  of  my  having  bestowed  my  heart 
upon  another  produced  in  my  friend  none  but  ludicrous  sen- 
sations was  the  true  cause  of  my  distress ;  but  if  this  had 
been  discovered  by  him  my  distress  would  have  been  un- 
speakably aggravated. 


As  soon  as  evening  arrived,  I  performed  my  visit.    Car- 
win  made  one  of  the  company  into  which  I  was  ushered. 


Charles  Brockdcn  Brozmi 

Appearances  were  the  same  as  when  I  before  beheld  him. 
His  garb  was  equally  negligent  and  rustic.  I  gazed  upon 
his  countenance  with  new  curiosity.  My  situation  was  such 
as  to  enable  me  to  bestow  upon  it  a  deliberate  examination. 
Viewed  at  more  leisure,  it  lost  none  of  its  wonderful  proper- 
ties. I  could  not  deny  my  homage  to  the  intelligence  ex- 
pressed in  it,  but  was  wholly  uncertain  whether  he  were 
an  object  to  be  dreaded  or  adored,  and  whether  his  powers 
had  been  exerted  to  evil  or  to  good. 

He  was  sparing  in  discourse ;  but  whatever  he  said  was 
pregnant  with  meaning,  and  uttered  with  rectitude  of  articu- 
lation and  force  of  emphasis  of  which  I  had  entertained  no 
conception  previously  to  my  knowledge  of  him.  Notwith- 
standing the  uncouthness  of  his  garb,  his  manners  were  not 
unpolished.  All  topics  were  handled  by  him  with  skill,  and 
without  pedantry  or  affectation.  He  uttered  no  sentiment 
calculated  to  produce  a  disadvantageous  impression ;  on  the 
contrary,  his  observations  denoted  a  mind  alive  to  every  gen- 
erous and  heroic  feeling.  They  were  introduced  without 
parade,  and  accompanied  with  that  degree  of  earnestness 
which  indicates  sincerity. 

He  parted  from  us  not  till  late,  refusing  an  invitation  to 
spend  the  night  here,  but  readily  consented  to  repeat  his 
visit.  His  visits  were  frequently  repeated.  Each  day  intro- 
duced us  to  a  more  intimate  acquaintance  with  his  senti- 
ments, but  left  us  wholly  in  the  dark  concerning  that  about 
which  we  were  most  inquisitive.  He  studiously  avoided  all 
mention  of  his  past  or  present  situation.  Even  the  place  of 
his  abode  in  the  city  he  concealed  from  us. 

Our  sphere  in  this  respect  being  somewhat  limited,  and 
the  intellectual  endowments  of  this  man  being  indisputably 
great,  his  deportment  was  more  diligently  marked  and  copi- 
ously commented  on  by  us  than  you,  perhaps,  will  think  the 
circumstances  warranted.  Not  a  gesture,  or  glance,  or  ac- 
cent, that  was  not,  in  our  private  assemblies,  discussed,  and 
inferences  deduced  from  it.  It  may  well  be  thought  that 
he  modeled  his  behavior  by  an  uncommon  standard,  when, 
with  all  our  opportunities  and  accuracy  of  observation,  we 


Avicrican  Mystery  Stories 

were  able  for  a  long  time  to  gather  no  satisfactory  informa- 
tion. He  afforded  us  no  ground  on  which  to  build  even  a 
plausible  conjecture. 

There  is  a  degree  of  familiarity  which  takes  place  between 
constant  associates,  that  justifies  the  negligence  of  many 
rules  of  which,  in  an  earlier  period  of  their  intercourse,  po- 
liteness requires  the  exact  observance.  Inquiries  into  our 
condition  are  allowable  when  they  are  prompted  by  a  dis- 
interested concern  for  our  welfare ;  and  this  solicitude  is  not 
only  pardonable,  but  may  justly  be  demanded  from  those 
who  choose  us  for  their  companions.  This  state  of  things 
was  more  slow  to  arrive  at  on  this  occasion  than  on  most 
others,  on  account  of  the  gravity  and  loftiness  of  this  man's 

Pleyel,  however,  began  at  length  to  employ  regular  means 
for  this  end.  He  occasionally  alluded  to  the  circumstances 
in  which  they  had  formerly  met,  and  remarked  the  incon- 
gruousness  between  the  religion  and  habits  of  a  Spaniard 
with  those  of  a  native  of  Britain.  He  expressed  his  aston- 
ishment at  meeting  our  guest  in  this  corner  of  the  globe, 
especially  as,  when  they  parted  in  Spain,  he  was  taught  to 
believe  that  Carwin  should  never  leave  that  country.  He 
insinuated  that  a  change  so  great  must  have  been  prompted 
by  motives  of  a  singular  and  momentous  kind. 

No  answer,  or  an  answer  wide  of  the  purpose,  was  gen- 
erally made  to  these  insinuations.  Britons  and  Spaniards, 
he  said,  are  votaries  of  the  same  Deity,  and  square  their 
faith  by  the  same  precepts ;  their  ideas  are  drawn  from  the 
same  fountains  of  literature,  and  they  speak  dialects  of  the 
same  tongue ;  their  government  and  laws  have  more  resem- 
blances than  differences ;  they  were  formerly  provinces  of 
the  same  civil,  and,  till  lately,  of  the  same  religious,  empire. 

As  to  the  motives  which  induce  men  to  change  the  place 
of  their  abode,  these  must  unavoidably  be  fleeting  and  muta- 
ble. H  not  bound  to  one  spot  by  conjugal  or  parental  ties, 
or  by  the  nature  of  that  employment  to  which  we  are  in- 
debted for  subsistence,  the  inducements  to  change  are  far 
more  numerous  and  powerful  than  opposite  inducements. 


Charles  Brockdcn  Brozvn 

He  spoke  as  if  desirous  of  shewing  that  he  was  not  aware 
of  the  tendency  of  Pleyel's  remarks ;  yet  certain  tokens  were 
apparent  that  proved  him  by  no  means  wanting  in  penetra- 
tion. These  tokens  were  to  be  read  in  his  countenance,  and 
not  in  his  words.  When  anything  was  said  indicating  curi- 
osity in  us,  the  gloom  of  his  countenance  was  deepened,  his 
eyes  sunk  to  the  ground,  and  his  wonted  air  was  not  resumed 
without  visible  struggle.  Hence,  it  was  obvious  to  infer  that 
some  incidents  of  his  life  were  reflected  on  by  him  with 
regret ;  and  that,  since  these  incidents  were  carefully  con- 
cealed, and  even  that  regret  which  flowed  from  them  labori- 
ously stifled,  they  had  not  been  merely  disastrous.  The 
secrecy  that  was  observed  appeared  not  designed  to  provoke 
or  haffie  the  inquisitive,  but  was  prompted  by  the  shame  or 
by  the  prudence  of  guilt. 

These  ideas,  which  were  adopted  by  Pleyel  and  my  brother 
as  well  as  myself,  hindered  us  from  employing  more  direct 
means  for  accomplishing  our  wishes.  Questions  might  have 
been  put  in  such  terms  that  no  room  should  be  left  for 
the  pretense  of  misapprehension ;  and,  if  modesty  merely 
had  been  the  obstacle,  such  questions  would  not  have  been 
wanting;  but  we  considered  that,  if  the  disclosure  were 
productive  of  pain  or  disgrace,  it  was  inhuman  to  ex- 
tort it. 

Amidst  the  various  topics  that  were  discussed  in  his  pres- 
ence, allusions  were,  of  course,  made  to  the  inexplicable 
events  that  had  lately  happened.  At  those  times  the  words 
and  looks  of  this  man  were  objects  of  my  particular  atten- 
tion. The  subject  was  extraordinary;  and  anyone  whose 
experience  or  reflections  could  throw  any  light  upon  it  was 
entitled  to  my  gratitude.  As  this  man  was  enlightened  by 
reading  and  travel,  I  listened  with  eagerness  to  the  remarks 
which  he  should  make. 

At  first  I  entertained  a  kind  of  apprehension  that  the  tale 
would  be  heard  by  him  with  incredulity  and  secret  ridicule. 
I  had  formerly  heard  stories  that  resembled  this  in  some 
of  their  mysterious  circumstances ;  but  they  were  commonly 
heard  by  me  with  contempt.     I  was  doubtful  whether  the 


American  Mystery  Stories 

same  impression  would  not  now  be  made  on  the  mind  of 
our  guest;  but  I  was  mistaken  in  my  fears. 

He  heard  them  with  seriousness,  and  without  any  marks 
either  of  surprise  or  increduHty.  He  pursued  with  visible 
pleasure  that  kind  of  disquisition  which  was  naturally  sug- 
gested by  them.  His  fancy  was  eminently  vigorous  and 
prolific;  and,  if  he  did  not  persuade  us  that  human  beings 
are  sometimes  admitted  to  a  sensible  intercourse  with  the 
Author  of  nature,  he  at  least  won  over  our  inclination 
to  the  cause.  He  merely  deduced,  from  his  own  reason- 
ings, that  such  intercourse  was  probable,  but  confessed  that, 
though  he  was  acquainted  with  many  instances  somewhat 
similar  to  those  which  had  been  related  by  us,  none  of 
them  were  perfectly  exempted  from  the  suspicion  of  hu- 
man agency. 

On  being  requested  to  relate  these  instances,  he  amused 
us  with  many  curious  details.  His  narratives  were  con- 
structed with  so  much  skill,  and  rehearsed  with  so  much 
energy,  that  all  the  effects  of  a  dramatic  exhibition  were  fre- 
quently produced  by  them.  Those  that  were  m.ost  coherent 
and  most  minute,  and,  of  consequence,  least  entitled  to  credit, 
were  yet  rendered  probable  by  the  exquisite  art  of  this 
rhetorician.  For  every  difficulty  that  was  suggested  a  ready 
and  plausible  solution  was  furnished.  I^.Iysterious  voices  had 
always  a  share  in  producing  the  catastrophe ;  but  they  were 
always  to  be  explained  on  some  known  principles,  either  as 
reflected  into  a  focus  or  communicated  through  a  tube.  I 
could  not  but  remark  that  his  narratives,  however  complex 
or  marvelous,  contained  no  instance  sufficiently  parallel  to 
those  that  had  befallen  ourselves,  and  in  which  the  solution 
was  applicable  to  our  own  case. 

My  brother  was  a  much  more  sanguine  reasoner  than  our 
guest.  Even  in  some  of  the  facts  which  were  related  by 
Carwin,  he  maintained  the  probability  of  celestial  interfer- 
ence, when  the  latter  was  disposed  to  deny  it,  and  had  found, 
as  he  imagined,  footsteps  of  a  human  agent.  Pleyel  was  by 
no  means  equally  credulous.  He  scrupled  not  to  deny  faith 
to  any  testimony  but  that  of  his  senses,  and  allowed  the 


Charles  Brockdcn  Broivn 

facts  which  had  lately  been  supported  by  this  testimony  not  to 
mold  his  belief,  but  merely  to  give  birth  to  doubts. 

It  was  soon  observed  that  Carwin  adopted,  in  some  de- 
gree, a  similar  distinction.  A  tale  of  this  kind,  related  by 
others,  he  would  believe,  provided  it  was  explicable  upon 
known  principles ;  but  that  such  notices  were  actually  com- 
municated by  beings  of  a  higher  order  he  would  believe  only 
when  his  own  ears  were  assailed  in  a  manner  which  could 
not  be  otherwise  accounted  for.  Civility  forbade  him  to 
contradict  my  brother  or  myself,  but  his  understanding  re- 
fused to  acquiesce  in  our  testimony.  Besides,  he  was  dis- 
posed to  question  whether  the  voices  were  not  really  uttered 
by  human  organs.  On  this  supposition  he  was  desired  to 
explain  how  the  effect  was  produced. 

He  answered  that  the  cry  for  help,  heard  in  the  hall 
on  th©  night  of  my  adventure,  was  to  be  ascribed  to  a 
human  creature,  who  actually  stood  in  the  hall  when  he 
uttered  it.  It  was  of  no  moment,  he  said,  that  we  could 
not  explain  by  what  motives  he  that  made  the  signal  was 
led  hither.  How  imperfectly  acquainted  were  we  with  the 
condition  and  designs  of  the  beings  that  surrounded  us! 
The  city  was  near  at  hand,  and  thousands  might  there  exist 
whose  powers  and  purposes  might  easily  explain  whatever 
was  mysterious  in  this  transaction.  As  to  the  closet  dia- 
logue, he  was  obliged  to  adopt  one  of  two  suppositions,  and 
affirm  either  that  it  was  fashioned  in  my  own  fancy,  or  that 
it  actually  took  place  between  two  persons  in  the  closet. 

Such  was  Carwin's  mode  of  explaining  these  appearances. 
It  is  such,  perhaps,  as  would  commend  itself  as  most  plaus- 
ible to  the  most  sagacious  minds ;  but  it  was  insufficient  to 
impart  conviction  to  us.  As  to  the  treason  that  was  medi- 
tated against  me,  it  was  doubtless  just  to  conclude  that  it 
was  either  real  or  imaginary ;  but  that  it  was  real  was  at- 
tested by  the  mysterious  warning  in  the  summer-house,  the 
secret  of  which  I  had  hitherto  locked  up  in  my  own  breast. 

A  month  passed  away  in  this  kind  of  intercourse.  As  to 
Carwin,  our  ignorance  was  in  no  degree  enlightened  respect- 
ing his  genuine  character  and  views.     Appearances  were 


American  Mystery  Stories 

uniform.  No  man  possessed  a  larger  store  of  knowledge, 
or  a  greater  degree  of  skill  in  the  communication  of  it  to 
others ;  hence  he  was  regarded  as  an  inestimable  addition  to 
our  society.  Considering  the  distance  of  my  brother's  house 
from  the  city,  he  was  frequently  prevailed  upon  to  pass  the 
night  where  he  spent  the  evening.  Two  days  seldom  elapsed 
without  a  visit  from  him;  hence  he  was  regarded  as  a  kind 
of  inmate  of  the  house.  He  entered  and  departed  without 
ceremony.  When  he  arrived  he  received  an  unaffected  wel- 
come, and  when  he  chose  to  retire  no  importunities  were 
used  to  induce  him  to  remain. 

Carwin  never  parted  with  his  gravity.  The  inscrutable- 
ness  of  his  character,  and  the  uncertainty  whether  his  fel- 
lowship tended  to  good  or  to  evil,  were  seldom  absent  from 
our  minds.  This  circumstance  powerfully  contributed  to 
sadden  us. 

My  heart  was  the  seat  of  growing  disquietudes.  This 
change  in  one  who  had  formerly  been  characterized  by  all 
the  exuberances  of  soul  could  not  fail  to  be  remarked  by 
my  friends.  My  brother  was  always  a  pattern  of  solemnity. 
My  sister  was  clay,  molded  by  the  circumstances  in  which 
she  happened  to  be  placed.  There  was  but  one  whose  de- 
portment remains  to  be  described  as  being  of  importance  to 
our  happiness.    Had  Pleyel  likewise  dismissed  his  vivacity? 

He  was  as  whimsical  and  jestful  as  ever,  but  he  was  not 
happy.  The  truth  in  this  respect  w^as  of  too  much  impor- 
tance to  me  not  to  make  me  a  vigilant  observer.  His  mirth 
was  easily  perceived  to  be  the  fruit  of  exertion.  When  his 
thoughts  wandered  from  the  company,  an  air  of  dissatis- 
faction and  impatience  stole  across  his  features.  Even  the 
punctuality  and  frequency  of  his  visits  w^ere  somewhat  less- 
ened. It  may  be  supposed  that  my  own  uneasiness  was 
heightened  by  these  tokens ;  but,  strange  as  it  may  seem,  I 
found,  in  the  present  state  of  my  mind,  no  relief  but  in  the 
persuasion  that  Pleyel  was  unhappy. 

That  unhappiness,  indeed,  depended  for  its  value  in  my 
eyes  on  the  cause  that  produced  it.  There  was  but  one 
source  whence  it  could  flow.     A  nameless  ecstasy  thrilled 


Charles  Brockdcn  Brown 

through  my  frame  when  any  new  proof  occurred  that  the 
ambiguousness  of  my  behavior  was  the  cause. 


My  brother  had  received  a  new  book  from  Germany,  It 
was  a  tragedy,  and  the  first  attempt  of  a  Saxon  poet  of  whom 
my  brother  had  been  taught  to  entertain  the  highest  ex- 
pectations. The  exploits  of  Zisca,  the  Bohemian  hero,  were 
woven  into  a  dramatic  series  and  connection.  According  to 
German  custom,  it  was  minute  and  diffuse,  and  dictated  by 
an  adventurous  and  lawless  fancy.  It  was  a  chain  of  auda- 
cious acts  and  unheard-of  disasters.  The  moated  fortress 
and  the  thicket,  the  ambush  and  the  battle,  and  the  conflict 
of  headlong  passions,  were  portrayed  in  wild  numbers  and 
with  terrific  energy.  An  afternoon  was  set  apart  to  rehearse 
this  performance.  The  language  was  familiar  to  all  of  us 
but  Carwin,  whose  company,  therefore,  was  tacitly  dispensed 

The  morning  previous  to  this  intended  rehearsal  I  spent 
at  home.  My  mind  was  occupied  with  reflections  relative  tO' 
my  own  situation.  The  sentiment  which  lived  with  chief 
energy  in  my  heart  was  connected  with  the  image  of  Pleyel. 
In  the  midst  of  my  anguish,  I  had  not  been  destitute  of  con- 
solation. His  late  deportment  had  given  spring  to  my  hopes. 
Was  not  the  hour  at  hand  which  should  render  me  the  hap- 
piest of  human  creatures  ?  He  suspected  that  I  looked  with 
favorable  eyes  upon  Carwin.  Hence  arose  disquietudes 
which  he  struggled  in  vain  to  conceal.  He  loved  me,  but 
was  hopeless  that  his  love  would  be  compensated.  Is  it  not 
time,  said  I,  to  rectify  this  error?  But  by  what  means  is 
this  to  be  effected?  It  can  only  be  done  by  a  change  of 
deportment  in  me ;  but  how  must  I  demean  myself  for  this 
purpose  ? 

I  must  not  speak.  Neither  eyes  nor  lips  must  impart  the 
information.  He  must  not  be  assured  that  my  heart  is  his, 
previous  to  the  tender  of  his  own ;  but  he  must  be  convinced. 


American  Mystery  Stories 

that  it  has  not  been  given  to  another ;  he  must  be  supplied 
with  space  whereon  to  build  a  doubt  as  to  the  true  state  of 
my  affections ;  he  must  be  prompted  to  avow  himself.  The 
line  of  delicate  propriety, — how  hard  it  is  not  to  fall  short, 
and  not  to  overleap  it ! 

This  afternoon  we  shall  meet.  .  .  .  We  shall  not  sepa- 
rate till  late.  It  will  be  his  province  to  accompany  me 
home.  The  airy  expanse  is  without  a  speck.  This  breeze 
is  usually  steadfast,  and  its  promise  of  a  bland  and  cloudless 
evening  may  be  trusted.  The  moon  will  rise  at  eleven,  and 
at  that  hour  we  shall  wind  along  this  bank.  Possibly  that 
hour  may  decide  my  fate.  If  suitable  encouragement  be 
given,  Pleyel  will  reveal  his  soul  to  me;  and  I,  ere  I  reach 
^his  threshold,  will  be  made  the  happiest  of  beings. 

And  is  this  good  to  be  mine?  Add  wings  to  thy  speed, 
sweet  evening;  and  thou,  moon,  I  charge  thee,  shroud  thy 
beams  at  the  moment  when  my  Pleyel  whispers  love,  I 
would  not  for  the  world  that  the  burning  blushes  and  the 
mounting  raptures  of  that  moment  should  be  visible. 

But  what  encouragement  is  wanting?  I  must  be  regard- 
ful of  insurmountable  limits.  Yet,  when  minds  are  imbued 
with  a  genuine  sympathy,  are  not  words  and  looks  super- 
fluous ?  Are  not  motion  and  touch  sufficient  to  impart  feel- 
ings such  as  mine?  Has  he  not  eyed  me  at  moments  when 
the  pressure  of  his  hand  has  thrown  me  into  tumults,  and 
was  it  impossible  that  he  mistook  the  impetuosities  of  love 
for  the  eloquence  of  indignation? 

But  the  hastening  evening  will  decide.  Would  it  were 
come !  And  yet  I  shudder  at  its  near  approach.  An  inter- 
view that  must  thus  terminate  is  surely  to  be  wished  for  by 
me ;  and  yet  it  is  not  without  its  terrors.  Would  to  heaven 
it  were  come  and  gone! 

I  feel  no  reluctance,  my  friends,  to  be  thus  explicit.  Time 
was,  when  these  emotions  would  be  hidden  with  immeasur- 
able solicitude  from  every  human  eye.  Alas !  these  airy  and 
fleeting  impulses  of  shame  are  gone.  My  scruples  were  pre- 
posterous and  criminal.  They  are  bred  in  all  hearts  by  a 
perverse  and  vicious  education,  and  they  would  still  have 


Charles  Brockdcn  Brown 

maintained  their  place  in  my  heart,  had  not  my  portion  been 
set  in  misery.  My  errors  have  taught  me  thus  much  wis- 
dom : — that  those  sentiments  which  we  ought  not  to  disclose 
it  is  criminal  to  harbor. 

It  was  proposed  to  begin  the  rehearsal  at  four  o'clock.  I 
counted  the  minutes  as  they  passed ;  their  flight  was  at  once 
too  rapid  and  too  slow :  my  sensations  were  of  an  excruci- 
ating kind ;  I  could  taste  no  food,  nor  apply  to  any  task,  nor 
enjoy  a  moment's  repose;  when  the  hour  arrived  I  hastened 
to  my  brother's. 

Pleyel  was  not  there.  He  had  not  yet  come.  On  ordi- 
nary occasions  he  was  eminent  for  punctuality.  He  had 
testified  great  eagerness  to  share  in  the  pleasures  of  this 
rehearsal.  He  was  to  divide  the  task  with  my  brother,  and 
in  tasks  like  these  he  always  engaged  with  peculiar  zeal. 
His  elocution  was  less  sweet  than  sonorous,  and,  therefore, 
better  adapted  than  the  mellifluences  of  his  friend  to  the  out- 
rageous vehemence  of  this  drama. 

What  could  detain  him?  Perhaps  he  lingered  through 
forgetfulness.  Yet  this  was  incredible.  Never  had  his  mem- 
ory been  known  to  fail  upon  even  more  trivial  occasions. 
Not  less  impossible  was  it  that  the  scheme  had  lost  its  at- 
tractions, and  that  he  stayed  because  his  coming  would 
afiford  him  no  gratification.  But  why  should  we  expect 
him  to  adhere  to  the  minute? 

A  half-hour  elapsed,  but  Pleyel  was  still  at  a  distance. 
Perhaps  he  had  misunderstood  the  hour  which  had  been  pro- 
posed. Perhaps  he  had  conceived  that  to-morrow,  and  not 
to-day,  had  been  selected  for  this  purpose;  but  no.  A  re- 
view of  preceding  circumstances  demonstrated  that  such  mis- 
apprehension was  impossible ;  for  he  had  himself  proposed 
this  day,  and  this  hour.  This  day  his  attention  would  not 
otherwise  be  occupied ;  but  to-morrow  an  indispensable  en- 
gagement was  foreseen,  by  which  all  his  time  would  be 
engrossed ;  his  detention,  therefore,  must  be  owing  to  some 
unforeseen  and  extraordinary  event.  Our  conjectures  were 
vague,  tumultuous,  and  sometimes  fearful.  His  sickness 
and  his  death  might  possibly  have  detained  him. 


American  Mystery  Stories 

Tortured  with  suspense,  we  sat  gazing  at  each  other,  ari^d 
at  the  path  which  led  from  the  road.  Every  horseman  that 
passed  was,  for  a  moment,  imagined  to  be  him.  Hour  suc- 
ceeded hour,  and  the  sun,  gradually  declining,  at  length 
disappeared.  Every  signal  of  his  coming  proved  fallacious, 
and  our  hopes  were  at  length  dismissed.  His  absence  af- 
fected my  friends  in  no  insupportable  degree.  They  should 
be  obliged,  they  said,  to  defer  this  undertaking  till  the  mor- 
row; and  perhaps  their  impatient  curiosity  would  compel 
them  to  dispense  entirely  with  his  presence.  No  doubt  some 
harmless  occurrence  had  diverted  him  from  his  purpose ;  and 
they  trusted  that  they  should  receive  a  satisfactory  account 
of  him  in  the  morning. 

It  may  be  supposed  that  this  disappointment  affected  me 
in  a  very  different  manner.  I  turned  aside  my  head  to  con- 
ceal my  tears.  I  fled  into  solitude,  to  give  vent  to  my  re- 
proaches without  interruption  or  restraint.  My  heart  was 
ready  to  burst  with  indignation  and  grief.  Pleyel  was  not 
the  only  object  of  my  keen  but  unjust  upbraiding.  Deeply 
did  I  execrate  my  own  folly.  Thus  fallen  into  ruins  was 
the  gay  fabric  which  I  had  reared !  Thus  had  my  golden 
vision  melted  into  air! 

How  fondly  did  I  dream  that  Pleyel  was  a  lover !  If  he 
were,  would  he  have  suffered  any  obstacle  to  hinder  his  com- 
ing? "Blind  and  infatuated  man!"  I  exclaimed.  "Thou 
sportest  with  happiness.  The  good  that  is  offered  thee  thou 
hast  the  insolence  and  folly  to  refuse.  Well,  I  will  hence- 
forth intrust  my  felicity  to  no  one's  keeping  but  my  own." 

The  first  agonies  of  this  disappointment  would  not  allow 
me  to  be  reasonable  or  just.  Every  ground  on  which  I  had 
built  the  persuasion  that  Pleyel  was  not  unimpressed  in  my 
favor  appeared  to  vanish.  It  seemed  as  if  I  had  been  misled 
into  this  opinion  by  the  most  palpable  illusions. 

I  made  some  trifling  excuse,  and  returned,  much  earlier 
than  I  expected,  to  my  own  house.  I  retired  early  to  my 
chamber,  without  designing  to  sleep.  I  placed  myself  at  a 
window,  and  gave  the  reins  to  reflection. 

The  hateful  and  degrading  impulses  which  had  lately  con- 

2  t2 

Charles  Brockdcn  Brown 

trolled  me  were,  in  some  degree,  removed.  New  dejection 
succeeded,  but  was  now  produced  by  contemplating  my  late 
behavior.  Surely  that  passion  is  worthy  to  be  abhorred 
which  obscures  our  understanding  and  urges  us  to  the  com- 
mission of  injustice.  What  right  had  I  to  expect  his  attend- 
ance? Had  I  not  demeaned  myself  like  one  indifferent  to 
his  happiness,  and  as  having  bestowed  my  regards  upon 
another  ?  His  absence  might  be  prompted  by  the  love  which 
I  considered  his  absence  as  a  proof  that  he  wanted.  He 
came  not  because  the  sight  of  me,  the  spectacle  of  my  cold- 
ness or  aversion,  contributed  to  his  despair.  Why  should 
I  prolong,  by  hypocrisy  or  silence,  his  misery  as  well  as  my 
own?  Why  not  deal  with  him  explicitly,  and  assure  him 
of  the  truth? 

You  will  hardly  believe  that,  in  obedience  to  this  sug- 
gestion, I  rose  for  the  purpose  of  ordering  a  light,  that  I 
might  instantly  make  this  confession  in  a  letter.  A  second 
thought  showed  me  the  rashness  of  this  scheme,  and  I  won- 
dered by  what  infirmity  of  mind  I  could  be  betrayed  into 
a  momentary  approbation  of  it.  I  saw  with  the  utmost 
clearness  that  a  confession  like  that  would  be  the  most 
remediless  and  unpardonable  outrage  upon  the  dignity  of 
my  sex,  and  utterly  unworthy  of  that  passion  which  con- 
trolled me. 

I  resumed  my  seat  and  my  musing.  To  account  for  the 
absence  of  Pleyel  became  once  more  the  scope  of  my  con- 
jectures. How  many  incidents  might  occur  to  raise  an  in- 
superable impediment  in  his  way !  When  I  was  a  child,  a 
scheme  of  pleasure,  in  which  he  and  his  sister  were  parties, 
had  been  in  like  manner  frustrated  by  his  absence;  but  his 
absence,  in  that  instance,  had  been  occasioned  by  his  falling 
from  a  boat  into  the  river,  in  consequence  of  which  he  had 
run  the  most  imminent  hazard  of  being  drowned.  Here  was 
a  second  disappointment  endured  by  the  same  persons,  and 
produced  by  his  failure.  Might  it  not  originate  in  the  same 
cause?  Had  he  not  designed  to  cross  the  river  that  morn- 
ing to  make  some  necessary  purchases  in  New  Jersey?  He 
had  preconcerted  to  return  to  his  own  house  to  dinner  •  but 


American  Mystery  Stories 

perhaps  some  disaster  had  befallen  him.  Experience  had 
taught  me  the  insecurity  of  a  canoe,  and  that  was  the  only 
kind  of  boat  which  Pleyel  used ;  I  was,  likewise,  actuated 
by  an  hereditary  dread  of  water.  These  circumstances  com- 
bined to  bestow  considerable  plausibility  on  this  conjecture; 
but  the  consternation  with  which  I  began  to  be  seized  was 
allayed  by  reflecting  that,  if  this  disaster  had  happened,  my 
brother  would  have  received  the  speediest  information  of  it. 
The  consolation  which  this  idea  imparted  was  ravished  from 
me  b)-  a  new  thought.  This  disaster  might  have  happened, 
and  his  family  not  be  apprised  of  it.  The  first  intelligence 
of  his  fate  may  be  communicated  by  the  livid  corpse  which 
the  tide  may  cast,  many  days  hence,  upon  the  shore. 

Thus  was  I  distressed  by  opposite  conjectures ;  thus  was 
I  tormented  by  phantoms  of  my  own  creation.  It  was  not 
always  thus.  I  can  ascertain  the  date  when  my  mind  be- 
came the  victim  of  this  imbecility ;  perhaps  it  was  coeval 
with  the  inroad  of  a  fatal  passion, — a  passion  that  will  never 
rank  me  in  the  number  of  its  eulogists ;  it  was  alone  suffi- 
cient to  the  extermination  of  my  peace ;  it  was  itself  a  plente- 
ous source  of  calamity,  and  needed  not  the  concurrence  of 
other  evils  to  take  away  the  attractions  of  existence  and  dig 
for  me  an  untimely  grave. 

The  state  of  my  mind  naturally  introduced  a  train  of  re- 
flections upon  the  dangers  and  cares  which  inevitably  beset 
a  human  being.  By  no  violent  transition  was  I  led  to  ponder 
on  the  turbulent  life  and  mysterious  end  of  my  father.  I 
cherished  with  the  utmost  veneration  the  memory  of  this 
man,  and  every  relic  connected  with  his  fate  was  preserved 
with  the  most  scrupulous  care.  Among  these  was  to  be 
numbered  a  manuscript  containing  memoirs  of  his  own 
life.  The  narrative  was  by  no  means  recommended  by  its 
eloquence ;  but  neither  did  all  its  value  flow  from  my  relation- 
ship to  the  author.  Its  style  had  an  unaffected  and  pictur- 
esque simplicity.  The  great  variety  and  circumstantial  dis- 
play of  the  incidents,  together  with  their  intrinsic  importance 
as  descriptive  of  human  manners  and  passions,  made  it  the 
most  useful  book  in  my  collection.    It  was  late :  but,  being 


Charles  Brockdcn  Brown 

sensible  of  no  inclination  to  sleep,  I  resolved  to  betake  my- 
self to  the  perusal  of  it. 

To  do  this,  it  was  requisite  to  procure  a  light.  The  girl 
had  long  since  retired  to  her  chamber :  it  was  therefore 
proper  to  wait  upon  myself.  A  lamp,  and  the  means  of 
lighting  it,  were  only  to  be  found  in  the  kitchen.  Thither 
I  resolved  forthwith  to  repair;  but  the  light  was  of  use 
merely  to  enable  me  to  read  the  book.  I  knew  the  shelf 
and  the  spot  where  it  stood.  Whether  I  took  down  the  book, 
or  prepared  the  lamp  in  the  first  place,  appeared  to  be  a 
matter  of  no  moment.  The  latter  was  preferred,  and,  leav- 
ing my  seat,  I  approached  the  closet  in  which,  as  I  mentioned 
formerly,  my  books  and  papers  were  deposited. 

Suddenly  the  remembrance  of  what  had  lately  passed  in 
this  closet  occurred.  Whether  midnight  was  approaching, 
or  had  passed,  I  knew  not.  I  was,  as  then,  alone  and  de- 
fenseless. The  wind  v/as  in  that  direction  in  which,  aided 
by  the  deathlike  repose  of  nature,  it  brought  to  me  the  mur- 
mur of  the  waterfall.  This  was  mingled  with  that  solemn 
and  enchanting  sound  which  a  breeze  produces  among  the 
leaves  of  pines.  The  words  of  that  mysterious  dialogue, 
their  fearful  import,  and  the  wild  excess  to  which  I  was 
transported  by  my  terrors,  filled  my  imagination  anew.  My 
steps  faltered,  and  I  stood  a  moment  to  recover  myself. 

I  prevailed  on  myself  at  length  to  move  toward  the  closet. 
I  touched  the  lock,  but  my  fingers  were  powerless ;  I  was 
visited  afresh  by  unconquerable  apprehensions.  A  sort  of 
belief  darted  into  my  mind  that  some  being  was  concealed 
within  whose  purposes  were  evil.  I  began  to  contend  with 
those  fears,  when  it  occurred  to  me  that  I  might,  without 
impropriety,  go  for  a  lamp  previously  to  opening  the  closet. 
I  receded  a  few  steps ;  but  before  I  reached  the  chamber 
door  my  thoughts  took  a  new  direction.  Motion  seemed  to 
produce  a  mechanical  influence  upon  me.  I  was  ashamed  of 
my  weakness.  Besides,  what  aid  could  be  afforded  me  by  a 

My  fears  had  pictured  to  themselves  no  precise  object.  It 
would  be  difficult  to  depict  in  words  the  ingredients  and 


American  Mystery  Stories 

hues  of  that  phantom  which  haunted  me.  A  hand  invisible 
and  of  preternatural  strength,  lifted  by  human  passions,  and 
selecting  my  life  for  its  aim,  were  parts  of  this  terrific  image. 
All  places  were  alike  accessible  to  this  foe ;  or,  if  his  empire 
were  restricted  by  local  bounds,  those  bounds  were  utterly 
inscrutable  by  me.  But  had  I  not  been  told,  by  some  one 
in  league  with  this  enemy,  that  every  place  but  the  recess  in 
the  bank  was  exempt  from  danger  ? 

I  returned,  to  the  closet,  and  once  more  put  my  hand  upon 
the  lock.  Oh,  may  my  ears  lose  their  sensibility  ere  they 
be  again  assailed  by  a  shriek  so  terrible !  Not  merely  my 
understanding  was  subdued  by  the  sound ;  it  acted  on  my 
nerves  like  an  edge  of  steel.  It  appeared  to  cut  asunder  the 
fibers  of  my  brain  and  rack  every  joint  with  agony. 

The  cry,  loud  and  piercing  as  it  was,  was  nevertheless  hu- 
man. No  articulation  was  ever  more  distinct.  The  breath 
which  accompanied  it  did  not  fan  my  hair,  yet  did  every 
circumstance  combine  to  persuade  me  that  the  lips  which 
uttered  it  touched  my  very  shoulder. 

"  Hold !  hold !  "  were  the  words  of  this  tremendous  pro- 
hibition, in  whose  tone  the  whole  soul  seemed  to  be  wrapped 
up,  and  every  energy  converted  into  eagerness  and  terror. 

Shuddering,  I  dashed  myself  against  the  wall,  and,  by  the 
same  involuntary  impulse,  turned  my  face  backward  to  ex- 
amine the  mysterious  monitor.  The  moonlight  streamed 
into  each  window,  and  every  corner  of  the  room  was  con- 
spicuous, and  yet  I  beheld  nothing! 

The  interval  was  too  brief  to  be  artificially  measured,  be- 
tween the  utterance  of  these  words  and  my  scrutiny  directed 
to  the  quarter  whence  they  came.  Yet,  if  a  human  being 
had  been  there,  could  he  fail  to  have  been  visible?  Which 
of  my  senses  was  the  prey  of  a  fatal  illusion?  The  shock 
which  the  sound  produced  was  still  felt  in  every  part  of  my 
frame.  The  sound,  therefore,  could  not  but  be  a  genuine 
commotion.  But  that  I  had  heard  it  was  not  more  true 
than  that  the  being  who  uttered  it  was  stationed  at  my  right 
ear ;  yet  my  attendant  was  invisible. 

I  cannot  describe  the  state  of  my  thoughts  at  that  mo- 


Charles  Brockden  Brown 

ment.  Surprise  had  mastered  my  faculties.  My  frame 
shook,  and  the  vital  current  was  congealed.  I  was  conscious 
only  of  the  vehemence  of  my  sensations.  This  condition 
could  not  be  lasting.  Like  a  tide,  which  suddenly  mounts 
to  an  overwhelming  height  and  then  gradually  subsides,  my 
confusion  slowly  gave  place  to  order,  and  my  tumults  to  a 
calm.  I  was  able  to  deliberate  and  move.  I  resumed  my 
feet,  and  advanced  into  the  midst  of  the  room.  Upward, 
and  behind,  and  on  each  side,  I  threw  penetrating  glances. 
I  was  not  satisfied  with  one  examination.  He  that  hitherto 
refused  to  be  seen  might  change  his  purpose,  and  on  the 
next  survey  be  clearly  distinguishable. 

Solitude  imposes  least  restraint  upon  the  fancy.  Dark  is 
less  fertile  of  images  than  the  feeble  luster  of  the  moon.  I 
was  alone,  and  the  walls  were  checkered  by  shadowy  forms. 
As  the  moon  passed  behind  a  cloud  and  emerged,  these 
shadows  seemed  to  be  endowed  with  life,  and  to  move.  The 
apartment  was  open  to  the  breeze,  and  the  curtain  was  occa- 
sionally blown  from  its  ordinary  position.  This  motion  was 
not  unaccompanied  with  sound.  I  failed  not  to  snatch  a  look 
and  to  listen  when  this  motion  and  this  sound  occurred. 
My  belief  that  my  monitor  was  posted  near  was  strong,  and 
instantly  converted  these  appearances  to  tokens  of  his  pres- 
ence ;  and  yet  I  could  discern  nothing. 

When  my  thoughts  were  at  length  permitted  to  revert  to 
the  past,  the  first  idea  that  occurred  was  the  resemblance 
between  the  words  of  the  voice  which  I  had  just  heard  and 
those  which  had  terminated  my  dream  in  the  summer-house. 
There  are  means  by  which  we  are  able  to  distinguish  a  sub- 
stance from  a  shadow,  a  reality  from  the  phantom  of  a 
dream.  The  pit,  my  brother  beckoning  me  forward,  the 
seizure  of  my  arm,  and  tiie  voice  behind,  were  surely  imag- 
inary. That  these  incidents  were  fashioned  in  my  sleep  is 
supported  by  the  same  indubitable  evidence  that  compels  me 
to  believe  myself  awake  at  present ;  yet  the  words  and  the 
voice  were  the  same.  Then,  by  some  inexplicable  contriv- 
ance, I  was  aware  of  the  danger,  while  my  actions  and 
sensations  were  those  of  one  wholly  unacquainted  with  it. 


American  Mystery  Stories 

Now,  was  it  not  equally  true  that  my  actions  and  persuasions 
were  at  war?  Had  not  the  belief  that  evil  lurked  in  the 
closet  gained  admittance,  and  had  not  my  actions  betokened 
an  unwarrantable  security?  To  obviate  the  effects  of  my 
infatuation,  the  same  means  had  been  used. 

In  my  dream,  he  that  tempted  me  to  my  destruction  was 
mv  brother.  Death  was  ambushed  in  my  path.  From  what 
evil  was  I  now  rescued?  What  minister  or  implement  of 
ill  was  shut  up  in  this  recess  ?  Who  was  it  whose  suffocating 
grasp  I  was  to  feel  should  I  dare  to  enter  it?  What  mon- 
strous conception  is  this?    My  brother? 

No;  protection,  and  not  injury,  is  his  province.  Strange 
and  terrible  chimera!  Yet  it  would  not  be  suddenly  dis- 
missed. It  was  surely  no  vulgar  agency  that  gave  this  form 
to  my  fears.  He  to  whom  all  parts  of  time  are  equally  pres- 
ent, whom  no  contingency  approaches,  was  the  author  of 
that  spell  which  now  seized  upon  me.  Life  was  dear  to  me. 
No  consideration  was  present  that  enjoined  me  to  relinquish 
it.  Sacred  duty  combined  with  every  spontaneous  sentiment 
to  endear  to  me  my  being.  Should  I  not  shudder  when  my 
being  was  endangered?  But  what  emotion  should  possess 
me  when  the  arm  lifted  against  me  was  Wieland's? 

Ideas  exist  in  our  minds  that  can  be  accounted  for  by  no 
established  laws.  Why  did  I  dream  that  my  brother  was 
my  foe?  Why  but  because  an  omen  of  my  fate  was  or- 
dained to  be  communicated?  Yet  what  salutary  end  did 
it  serve  ?  Did  it  arm  me  with  caution  to  elude  or  fortitude 
to  bear  the  evils  to  which  I  was  reserved?  My  present 
thoughts  were,  no  doubt,  indebted  for  their  hue  to  the  simili- 
tude existing  between  these  incidents  and  those  of  my  dream. 
Surely  it  was  frenzy  that  dictated  my  deed.  That  a  ruffian 
was  hidden  in  the  closet  was  an  idea  the  genuine  tendency 
of  which  was  to  urge  me  to  flight.  Such  had  been  the  effect 
formerly  produced.  Had  my  mind  been  simply  occupied 
with  this  thought  at  present,  no  doubt  the  same  impulse 
would  have  been  experienced ;  but  now  it  was  my  brother 
whom  I  was  irresistibly  persuaded  to  regard  as  the  con- 
triver of  that  ill  of  which  I  had  been  forewarned.     This 


Charles  Brockdcn  Brown 

persuasion  did  not  extenuate  my  fears  or  my  danger.  Why 
then  did  I  again  approach  the  closet  and  withdraw  the  bolt  ? 
My  resolution  was  instantly  conceived,  and  executed  without 

The  door  was  formed  of  light  materials.  The  lock,  of 
simple  structure,  easily  forewent  its  hold.  It  opened  into 
the  room,  and  commonly  moved  upon  its  hinges,  after  being 
unfastened,  without  any  effort  of  mine.  This  effort,  how- 
ever, was  bestowed  upon  the  present  occasion.  It  was  my 
purpose  to  open  it  with  quickness;  but  the  exertion  which 
I  made  was  ineffectual.    It  refused  to  open. 

At  another  time,  this  circumstance  would  not  have  looked 
with  a  face  of  mystery,  I  should  have  supposed  some  casual 
obstruction  and  repeated  my  efforts  to  surmount  it.  But 
now  my  mind  was  accessible  to  no  conjecture  but  one.  The 
door  was  hindered  from  opening  by  human  force.  Surely, 
here  was  a  new  cause  for  affright.  This  was  confirmation 
proper  to  decide  my  conduct.  Now  was  all  ground  of  hesi- 
tation taken  away.  What  could  be  supposed  but  that  I  de- 
serted the  chamber  and  the  house  ?  that  I  at  least  endeavored 
no  longer  to  withdraw  the  door? 

Have  I  not  said  that  my  actions  were  dictated  by  frenzy  ? 
My  reason  had  forborne,  for  a  time,  to  suggest  or  to  sway 
my  resolves.  I  reiterated  my  endeavors.  I  exerted  all  my 
force  to  overcome  the  obstacle,  but  in  vain.  The  strength 
that  was  exerted  to  keep  it  shut  was  superior  to  mine. 

A  casual  observer  might,  perhaps,  applaud  the  audacious- 
ness of  this  conduct.  Whence,  but  from  a  habitual  defiance 
of  danger,  could  rny  perseverance  arise?  I  have  already 
assigned,  as  distinctly  as  I  am  able,  the  cause  of  it.  The 
frantic  conception  that  my  brother  was  within,  that  the  re- 
sistance made  to  my  design  was  exerted  by  him,  had  rooted 
itself  in  my  mind.  You  will  comprehend  the  height  of  this 
infatuation,  when  I  tell  you  that,  finding  all  my  exertions 
vain,  I  betook  myself  to  exclamations.  Surely  I  was  ut- 
terly bereft  of  understanding. 

Now  I  had  arrived  at  the  crisis  of  my  fate.  "  Oh,  hinder 
not  the  door  to  open,"  I  exclaimed,  in  a  tone  that  had  less 


American  Mystery  Stories 

of  fear  than  of  grief  in  it.    "  I  know  you  well.    Come  forth, 
but  hami  me  not.     I  beseech  you,  come  forth." 

I  had  taken  my  hand  from  the  lock  and  removed  to  a 
small  distance  from  the  door.  I  had  scarcely  uttered  these 
words,  when  the  door  swung  upon  its  hinges  and  displayed 
to  my  view  the  interior  of  the  closet.  Whoever  was  within 
was  shrouded  in  darkness.  A  few  seconds  passed  without 
interruption  of  the  silence.  I  knew  not  what  to  expect  or 
to  fear.  My  eyes  would  not  stray  from  the  recess.  Pres- 
ently, a  deep  sigh  was  heard.  The  quarter  from  which  it 
came  heightened  the  eagerness  of  my  gaze.  Some  one  ap- 
proached from  the  farther  end.  I  quickly  perceived  the  out- 
lines of  a  human  figure.  Its  steps  were  irresolute  and  slow. 
I  recoiled  as  it  advanced. 

By  coming  at  length  within  the  verge  of  the  room,  his 
form  was  clearly  distinguishable.  I  had  prefigured  to  my- 
self a  very  different  personage.  The  face  that  presented 
itself  was  the  last  that  I  should  desire  to  meet  at  an  hour 
and  in  a  place  Hke  this.  My  wonder  was  stifled  by  my  fears. 
Assassins  had  lurked  in  this  recess.  Some  divine  voice 
warned  me  of  danger  that  at  this  moment  awaited  me.  I 
had  spurned  the  intimation,  and  challenged  my  adversary. 

I  recalled  the  mysterious  countenance  and  dubious  char- 
acter of  Carwin.  What  motive  but  atrocious  ones  could 
guide  his  steps  hither?  I  was  alone.  My  habit  suited  the 
hour,  and  the  place,  and  the  warmth  of  the  season.  All 
succor  was  remote.  He  had  placed  himself  between  me  and 
the  door.  My  frame  shook  with  the  vehemence  of  my  ap- 

Yet  I  was  not  wholly  lost  to  myself;  I  vigilantly  marked 
his  demeanor.  His  looks  were  grave,  but  not  without  per- 
turbation. What  species  of  inquietude  it  betrayed  the  light 
was  not  strong  enough  to  enable  me  to  discover.  He  stood 
still;  but  his  eyes  wandered  from  one  object  to  another. 
When  these  powerful  organs  were  fixed  upon  me,  I  shrunk 
into  myself.  At  length  he  broke  silence.  Earnestness,  and 
not  embarrassment,  was  in  his  tone.  He  advanced  close  to 
me  while  he  spoke: — 


Charles  Brockdcn  Brotvn 

"  What  voice  was  that  which  lately  addressed  you  ?  " 

He  paused  for  an  answer;  but,  observing  my  trepidation, 
he  resumed,  with  undiminished  solemnity,  "  Be  not  terrified. 
Whoever  he  was,  he  has  done  you  an  important  service.  I 
need  not  ask  you  if  it  were  the  voice  of  a  companion.  That 
sound  was  beyond  the  compass  of  human  organs.  The 
knowledge  that  enabled  him  to  tell  you  who  was  in  the 
closet  was  obtained  by  incomprehensible  means. 

"  You  knew  that  Carwin  was  there.  Were  you  not  ap- 
prised of  his  intents  ?  The  same  power  CQuld  impart  the  one 
as  well  as  the  other.  Yet,  knowing  these,  you  persisted. 
Audacious  girl !  But  perhaps  you  confided  in  his  guardian- 
ship. Your  confidence  was  just.  With  succor  like  this  at 
hand  you  may  safely  defy  me. 

"  He  is  my  eternal  foe ;  the  baffler  of  my  best-concerted 
schemes.  Twice  have  you  been  saved  by  his  accursed  in- 
terposition. But  for  him  I  should  long  ere  now  have  borne 
away  the  spoils  of  your  honor." 

He  looked  at  me  with  greater  steadfastness  than  before. 
I  became  every  moment  more  anxious  for  my  safety.  It 
was  with  difficulty  I  stammered  out  an  entreaty  that  he 
would  instantly  depart,  or  suffer  me  to  do  so.  He  paid  no- 
regard  to  my  request,  but  proceeded  in  a  more  impassioned 
manner : — 

"  What  is  it  you  fear  ?  Have  I  not  told  you  you  are  safe  ? 
Has  not  one  in  whom  you  more  reasonably  place  trust  as- 
sured you  of  it?  Even  if  I  execute  my  purpose,  what  injury 
is  done?  Your  prejudices  will  call  it  by  that  name,  but  it 
merits  it  not. 

"  I  was  impelled  by  a  sentiment  that  does  you  honor ;  a 
sentiment  that  would  sanctify  my  deed ;  but,  whatever  it  be, 
you  are  safe.  Be  this  chimera  still  worshiped ;  I  will  do 
nothing  to  pollute  it."    There  he  stopped. 

The  accents  and  gestures  of  this  man  left  me  drained  of 
all  courage.  Surely,  on  no  other  occasion  should  I  have 
been  thus  pusillanimous.  My  state  I  regarded  as  a  hopeless 
one.  I  was  wholly  at  the  mercy  of  this  being.  Whichever 
way  I  turned  my  eyes,  I  saw  no  avenue  by  which  I  might 


American  Mystery  Stories 

escape.  The  resources  of  my  personal  strength,  my  in- 
genuity, and  my  eloquence,  I  estimated  at  nothing.  The 
dignity  of  virtue  and  the  force  of  truth  I  had  been  accus- 
tomed to  celebrate,  and  had  frequently  vaunted  of  the  con- 
quests which  I  should  make  with  their  assistance. 

I  used  to  suppose  that  certain  evils  could  never  befall  a 
being  in  possession  of  a  sound  mind ;  that  true  virtue  sup- 
plies us  with  energy  which  vice  can  never  resist ;  that  it  was 
always  in  our  power  to  obstruct,  by  his  own  death,  the  de- 
signs of  an  enemy  who  aimed  at  less  than  our  life.  How 
was  it  that  a  sentiment  like  despair  had  now  invaded  me, 
and  that  I  trusted  to  the  protection  of  chance,  or  to  the  pity 
of  my  persecutor  ? 

His  words  imparted  some  notion  of  the  injury  which  he 
had  meditated.  He  talked  of  obstacles  that  had  risen  in  his 
way.  He  had  relinquished  his  design.  These  sources  sup- 
plied me  with  slender  consolation.  There  was  no  security 
but  in  his  absence.  When  I  looked  at  myself,  when  I  re- 
flected on  the  hour  and  the  place,  I  was  overpowered  by 
horror  and  dejection. 

He  was  silent,  museful,  and  inattentive  to  my  situation, 
yet  made  no  motion  to  depart.  I  was  silent  in  my  turn. 
What  could  I  say  ?  I  was  confident  that  reason  in  this  con- 
test would  be  impotent.  I  must  owe  my  safety  to  his  own 
suggestions.  Whatever  purpose  brought  him  hither,  he  had 
changed  it.  Why  then  did  he  remain?  His  resolutions 
might  fluctuate,  and  the  pause  of  a  few  minutes  restore  to 
him  his  first  resolutions. 

Yet  was  not  this  the  man  whom  we  had  treated  with  un- 
wearied kindness  ?  whose  society  was  endeared  to  us  by  his 
intellectual  elevation  and  accomplishments  ?  who  had  a  thou- 
sand times  expatiated  on  the  usefulness  and  beauty  of  vir- 
tue? Why  should  such  a  one  be  dreaded  ?  If  I  could  have 
forgotten  the  circumstances  in  which  our  interview  had 
taken  place,  I  might  have  treated  his  words  as  jests.  Pres- 
ently, he  resumed: — 

"  Fear  me  not:  the  space  that  severs  us  is  small,  and  all 
visib'e  succor  is  distant.    You  believe  yourself  completely  in 


Charles  Brockdcn  Brown 

my  power ;  that  you  stand  upon  the  brink  of  ruin.  Such  are 
your  groundless  fears.  I  cannot  hft  a  finger  to  hurt  you. 
Easier  would  it  be  to  stop  the  moon  in  her  course  than  to 
injure  you.  The  power  that  protects  you  would  crumble 
my  sinews  and  reduce  me  to  a  heap  of  ashes  in  a  moment, 
if  I  were  to  harbor  a  thought  hostile  to  your  safety. 

"  Thus  are  appearances  at  length  solved.  Little  did  I  ex- 
pect that  they  originated  hence.  What  a  portion  is  assigned 
to  you !  Scanned  by  the  eyes  of  this  intelligence,  your  path 
will  be  without  pits  to  swallow  or  snares  to  entangle  you. 
Environed  by  the  arms  of  this  protection,  all  artifices  will 
be  frustrated  and  all  malice  repelled." 

Here  succeeded  a  new  pause.  I  was  still  observant  of 
every  gesture  and  look.  The  tranquil  solemnity  that  had 
lately  possessed  his  countenance  gave  way  to  a  new  expres- 
sion.   All  now  was  trepidation  and  anxiety. 

"  I  must  be  gone,"  said  he,  in  a  faltering  accent.  "  Why 
do  I  linger  here?  I  will  not  ask  your  forgiveness.  I  see 
that  your  terrors  are  invincible.  Your  pardon  will  be  ex- 
torted by  fear,  and  not  dictated  by  compassion.  I  must  fly 
from  you  forever.  He  that  could  plot  against  your  honor 
must  expect  from  you  and  your  friends  persecution  and 
death.    I  must  doom  myself  to  endless  exile." 

Saying  this,  he  hastily  left  the  room.  I  listened  while 
he  descended  the  stairs,  and,  unbolting  the  outer  door, 
went  forth.  I  did  not  follow  him  with  my  eyes,  as  the  moon- 
light would  have  enabled  me  to  do.  Relieved  by  his  ab- 
sence, and  exhausted  by  the  conflict  of  my  fears,  I  threw 
myself  on  a  chair,  and  resigned  myself  to  those  bewildering 
ideas  which  incidents  like  these  could  not  fail  to  produce. 


Order  could  not  readily  be  introduced  into  my  thoughts. 
The  voice  still  rung  in  my  ears.  Every  accent  that  was 
uttered  by  Carwin  was  fresh  in  my  remembrance.  His  un- 
welcome approach,  the  recognition  of  his  person,  his  hasty 


American  Mystery  Stories 

departure,  produced  a  complex  impression  on  my  mind 
which  no  words  can  delineate.  I  strove  to  give  a  slower 
motion  to  my  thoughts,  and  to  regulate  a  confusion  which 
became  painful;  but  my  efiforts  were  nugatory.  I  covered 
my  eyes  with  my  hand,  and  sat,  I  know  not  how  long,  with- 
out power  to  arrange  or  utter  my  conceptions, 

I  had  remained  for  hours,  as  I  believed,  in  absolute  soli- 
tude. No  thought  of  personal  danger  had  miolested  my 
tranquillity.  I  had  made  no  preparation  for  defense.  What 
was  it  that  suggested  the  design  of  perusing  my  father's 
manuscript?  If,  instead  of  this,  I  had  retired  to  bed  and 
to  sleep,  to  what  fate  might  I  not  have  been  reserved.  The 
ruffian,  who  must  almost  have  suppressed  his  breathings 
to  screen  himself  from  discovery,  would  have  noticed  this 
signal,  and  I  should  have  awakened  only  to  perish  with 
affright,  and  to  abhor  myself.  Could  I  have  remained  un- 
conscious of  my  danger?  Could  I  have  tranquilly  slept  in 
the  midst  of  so  deadly  a  snare? 

And  who  was  he  that  threatened  to  destroy  me?  By 
what  means  could  he  hide  himself  in  this  closet?  Surely 
he  is  gifted  with  supernatural  power.  Such  is  the  enemy 
of  whose  attempts  I  was  forewarned.  Daily  I  had  seen 
him  and  conversed  with  him.  Nothing  could  be  discerned 
through  the  impenetrable  veil  of  his  duplicity.  When  busied 
in  conjectures  as  to  the  author  of  the  evil  that  was  threat- 
ened, my  mind  did  not  light  for  a  moment  upon  his  image. 
Yet  has  he  not  avowed  himself  my  enemy  ?  Why  should  he 
be  here  if  he  had  not  meditated  evil? 

He  confesses  that  this  has  been  his  second  attempt. 
What  was  the  scene  of  his  former  conspiracy?  Was  it 
not  he  whose  whispers  betrayed  him?  Am  I  deceived? 
or  was  there  not  a  faint  resemblance  between  the  voice 
of  this  man  and  that  which  talked  of  grasping  my  throat 
and  extinguishing  my  life  in  a  moment?  Then  he  had 
a  colleague  in  his  crime;  now  he  is  alone.  Then  death 
was  the  scope  of  his  thoughts ;  now  an  injury  unspeakably 
more  dreadful.  How  thankful  should  I  be  to  the  power 
that  has  interposed  to  save  me ! 


Charles  Brockdcn  Brown 

That  power  is  invisible.  It  is  subject  to  the  cognizance 
of  one  of  my  senses.  What  are  the  means  that  will  inform 
me  of  what  nature  it  is  ?  He  has  set  himself  to  counter- 
work the  machinations  of  this  man,  who  had  menaced  de- 
struction to  all  that  is  dear  to  me,  and  whose  coming  had 
surmounted  every  human  impediment.  There  was  none  to 
rescue  me  from  his  grasp.  My  rashness  even  hastened  the 
completion  of  his  scheme,  and  precluded  him  from  the  bene- 
fits of  deliberation.  I  had  robbed  him  of  the  power  to 
repent  and  forbear.  Had  I  been  apprised  of  the  danger,  I 
should  have  regarded  my  conduct  as  the  means  of  render- 
ing my  escape  from  it  impossible.  Such,  likewise,  seem  to 
have  been  the  fears  of  my  invisible  protector.  Else  why 
that  startling  entreaty  to  refrain  from  opening  the  closet? 
By  what  inexplicable  infatuation  was  I  compelled  to  pro- 

"  Surely,"  said  I,  "  there  is  omnipotence  in  the  cause  that 
changed  the  views  of  a  man  like  Carwin.  The  divinity  that 
shielded  me  from  his  attempts  will  take  suitable  care  of 
my  future  safety.  Thus  to  yield  to  my  fears  is  to  deserve 
that  they  should  be  real." 

Scarcely  had  I  uttered  these  words,  when  my  attention 
was  startled  by  the  sound  of  footsteps.  They  denoted 
some  one  stepping  into  the  piazza  in  front  of  my  house. 
My  new-born  confidence  was  extinguished  in  a  moment. 
Carwin,  I  thought,  had  repented  his  departure,  and  was 
hastily  returning.  The  possibility  that  his  return  was 
prompted  by  intentions  consistent  with  my  safety  found 
no  place  in  my  mind.  Images  of  violation  and  murder 
assailed  me  anew,  and  the  terrors  which  succeeded  almost 
incapacitated  me  from  taking  any  measures  for  my  defense. 
It  was  an  impulse  of  which  I  was  scarcely  conscious  that 
made  me  fasten  the  lock  and  draw  the  bolts  of  my  cham- 
ber door.  Having  done  this,  I  threw  myself  on  a  seat; 
for  I  trembled  to  a  degree  which  disabled  me  from  stand- 
ing, and  my  soul  was  so  perfectly  absorbed  in  the  act  of 
listening,  that  almost  the  vital  motions  were  stopped. 

The  door  below  creaked  on  its  hinges.    It  was  not  again 


American  Mystery  Stories 

thrust  to,  but  appeared  to  remain  open.  Footsteps  entered, 
traversed  the  entry,  and  began  to  mount  the  stairs.  How 
I  detested  the  folly  of  not  pursuing  the  man  when  he  with- 
drew, and  bolting  after  him  the  outer  door!  Might  he  not 
conceive  this  omission  to  be  a  proof  that  my  angel  had  de- 
serted me,  and  be  thereby  fortified  in  guilt? 

Every  step  on  the  stairs  which  brought  him  nearer  to 
my  chamber  added  vigor  to  my  desperation.  The  evil 
with  which  I  was  menaced  was  to  be  at  any  rate  eluded. 
How  little  did  I  preconceive  the  conduct  which,  in  an 
exigence  like  this,  I  should  be  prone  to  adopt!  You  will 
suppose  that  deliberation  and  despair  would  have  sug- 
gested the  same  course  of  action,  and  that  I  should  have 
unhesitatingly  resorted  to  the  best  means  of  personal  de- 
fense within  my  power.  A  penknife  lay  open  upon  my 
table.  I  remembered  that  it  was  there,  and  seized  it.  For 
what  purpose  you  will  scarcely  inquire.  It  will  be  imme- 
diately supposed  that  I  meant  it  for  my  last  refuge,  and 
that,  if  all  other  means  should  fail,  I  should  plunge  it  into 
the  heart  of  my  ravisher. 

I  have  lost  all  faith  in  the  steadfastness  of  human  resolves. 
It  was  thus  that  in  periods  of  calm  I  had  determined  to 
act.  No  cowardice  had  been  held  by  me  in  greater  abhor- 
rence than  that  which  prompted  an  injured  female  to  de- 
stroy, not  her  injurer  ere  the  injury  was  perpetrated,  but 
herself  when  it  was  without  remedy.  Yet  now  this  pen- 
knife appeared  to  me  of  no  other  use  than  to  baffle  my 
assailant  and  prevent  the  crime  by  destroying  myself.  To 
deliberate  at  such  a  time  was  impossible;  but,  among  the 
tumultuous  suggestions  of  the  moment,  I  do  not  recollect 
that  it  once  occurred  to  me  to  use  it  as  an  instrument  of 
direct  defense. 

The  steps  had  now  reached  the  second  floor.  Every  foot- 
fall accelerated  the  completion  without  augmenting  the  cer- 
tainty of  evil.  The  consciousness  that  the  door  was  fast, 
now  that  nothing  but  that  was  interposed  between  me  and 
danger,  was  a  source  of  some  consolation.  I  cast  my  eye 
toward  the  window.    This,  likewise,  was  a  new  suggestion. 


Charles  Brockdcn  Brown 

If  the  door  should  give  way,  it  was  my  sudden  resolution 
to  throw  myself  from  the  window.  Its  height  from  the 
ground,  which  was  covered  beneath  by  a  brick  pavement, 
would  insure  my  destruction;  but  I  thought  not  of  that. 

When  opposite  to  my  door  the  footsteps  ceased.  Was 
he  listening  whether  my  fears  were  allayed  and  my  caution 
were  asleep  ?  Did  he  hope  to  take  me  by  surprise  ?  Yet, 
if  so,  why  did  he  allow  so  many  noisy  signals  to  betray 
his  approach?  Presently  the  steps  were  again  heard  to 
approach  the  door.  A  hand  was  laid  upon  the  lock,  and 
the  latch  pulled  back.  Did  he  imagine  it  possible  that  I 
should  fail  to  secure  the  door?  A  slight  effort  was  made 
to  push  it  open,  as  if,  all  bolts  being  withdrawn,  a  slight 
effort  only  was  required, 

I  no  sooner  perceived  this  than  I  moved  swiftly  toward 
the  window.  Carwin's  frame  might  be  said  to  be  all 
muscle.  His  strength  and  activity  had  appeared,  in  vari- 
ous instances,  to  be  prodigious.  A  slight  exertion  of  his 
force  would  demolish  the  door.  Would  not  that  exertion 
be  made?  Too  surely  it  would;  but,  at  the  same  moment 
that  this  obstacle  should  yield  and  he  should  enter  the 
apartment,  my  determination  was  formed  to  leap  from  the 
window.  My  senses  were  still  bound  to  this  object.  I 
gazed  at  the  door  in  momentary  expectation  that  the  as- 
sault would  be  made.  The  pause  continued.  The  person 
without  was  irresolute  and  motionless. 

Suddenly  it  occurred  to  me  that  Carwin  might  conceive 
me  to  have  fled.  That  I  had  not  betaken  myself  to  flight 
was,  indeed,  the  least  probable  of  all  conclusions.  In  this 
persuasion  he  must  have  been  confirmed  on  finding  the 
lower  door  unfastened  and  the  chamber  door  locked.  Was 
it  not  wise  to  foster  this  persuasion?  Should  I  maintain 
deep  silence,  this,  in  addition  to  other  circumstances,  might 
encourage  the  belief,  and  he  would  once  more  depart. 
Every  new  reflection  added  plausibility  to  this  reasoning. 
It  was  presently  more  strongly  enforced  when  I  noticed 
footsteps  withdrawing  from  the  door.  The  blood  once  more 
flowed  back  to  my  heart,  and  a  dawn  of  exultation  began 


American  Mystery  Stories 

to  rise;  but  my  joy  was  short-lived.  Instead  of  descending 
the  stairs,  he  passed  to  the  door  of  the  opposite  chamber, 
opened  it,  and,  having  entered,  shut  it  after  him  with  a  vio- 
lence that  shook  the  house. 

How  was  I  to  interpret  this  circumstance?  For  what 
end  could  he  have  entered  this  chamber?  Did  the  vio- 
lence with  which  he  closed  the  door  testify  the  depth  of 
his  vexation?  This  room  was  usually  occupied  by  Pleyel. 
Was  Carwin  aware  of  his  absence  on  this  night?  Could 
he  be  suspected  of  a  design  so  sordid  as  pillage?  If  this 
were  his  view,  there  were  no  means  in  my  power  to  frus- 
trate it.  It  behooved  me  to  seize  the  first  opportunity  to 
escape ;  but,  if  my  escape  were  supposed  by  my  enemy  to 
have  been  already  effected,  no  asylum  was  more  secure 
than  the  present.  How  could  my  passage  from  the  house 
be  accomplished  without  noises  that  might  incite  him  to 
pursue  me? 

Utterly  at  a  loss  to  account  for  his  going  into  Pleyel's 
chamber,  I  waited  in  instant  expectation  of  hearing  him 
come  forth.  All,  however,  was  profoundly  still.  I  listened 
in  vain  for  a  considerable  period  to  catch  the  sound  of  the 
door  when  it  should  again  be  opened.  There  was  no  other 
avenue  by  which  he  could  escape,  but  a  door  which  led  into 
the  girl's  chamber.  Would  any  evil  from  this  quarter  befall 
the  girl? 

Hence  arose  a  new  train  of  apprehensions.  They  merely 
added  to  the  turbulence  and  agony  of  my  reflections. 
Whatever  evil  impended  over  her,  I  had  no  power  to  avert 
it.  Seclusion  and  silence  were  the  only  means  of  saving 
myself  from  the  perils  of  this  fatal  night.  What  solemn 
vows  did  I  put  up,  that,  if  I  should  once  more  behold  the 
light  of  day,  I  would  never  trust  myself  again  within  the 
threshold  of  this  dwelling! 

Minute  lingered  after  minute,  but  no  token  was  given 
that  Carwin  had  returned  to  the  passage.  What,  I  again 
asked,  could  detain  him  in  this  room?  W^as  it  possible  that 
he  had  returned,  and  glided  unperceived  away?  I  was 
speedily  aware  of  the  difficulty  that  attended  an  enterprise 


Charles  Brockdt^n  Brown 

like  this;  and  yet,  as  if  by  that  means  I  were  capable  of 
gaining  any  information  on  that  head,  I  cast  anxious  looks 
from  the  window. 

The  object  that  first  attracted  my  attention  was  a  human 
figure  standing  on  the  edge  of  the  bank.  Perhaps  my 
penetration  was  assisted  by  my  hopes.  Be  that  as  it  will, 
the  figure  of  Carwin  was  clearly  distinguishable.  From  the 
obscurity  of  my  station,  it  was  impossible  that  I  should  be 
discerned  by  him;  and  yet  he  scarcely  suffered  me  to  catch 
a  glimpse  of  him.  He  turned  and  went  down  the  steep, 
which  in  this  part  was  not  difficult  to  be  scaled. 

My  conjecture,  then,  had  been  right.  Carwin  has  softly 
opened  the  door,  descended  the  stairs,  and  issued  forth. 
That  I  should  not  have  overheard  his  steps  was  only  less 
incredible  than  that  my  eyes  had  deceived  me.  But  what 
was  now  to  be  done?  The  house  was  at  length  delivered 
from  this  detested  inmate.  By  one  avenue  might  he  again 
reenter.  Was  it  not  wise  to  bar  the  lower  door?  Perhaps 
he  had  gone  out  by  the  kitchen  door.  For  this  end,  he  must 
have  passed  through  Judith's  chamber.  These  entrances 
being  closed  and  bolted,  as  great  security  was  gained  as 
was  compatible  with  my  lonely  condition. 

The  propriety  of  these  measures  was  too  manifest  not 
to  make  me  struggle  successfully  with  my  fears.  Yet  I 
opened  my  own  door  with  the  utmost  caution,  and  de- 
scended as  if  I  v/ere  afraid  that  Carwin  had  been  still  im- 
mured in  Pleyel's  chamber.  The  outer  door  was  ajar.  I 
shut  it  with  trembling  eagerness,  and  drew  every  bolt 
that  appended  to  it.  I  then  passed  with  light  and  less 
cautious  steps  through  the  parlor,  but  was  surprised  to 
discover  that  the  kitchen  door  was  secure.  I  was  com- 
pelled to  acquiesce  in  the  first  conjecture  that  Carwin  had 
escaped  through  the  entry. 

My  heart  was  now  somewhat  eased  of  the  load  of  ap- 
prehension. I  returned  once  more  to  my  chamber,  the 
door  of  which  I  was  careful  to  lock.  It  was  no  time  to 
think  of  repose.  The  moonlight  began  already  to  fade 
before  the  light  of  the  day.    The  approach  of  morning  was 


American  Mystery  Stories 

betokened  by  the  usual  signals.  I  mused  upon  the  events 
of  this  night,  and  determined  to  take  up  my  abode  hence- 
forth at  my  brother's.  Whether  I  should  inform  him  of 
what  had  happened  was  a  question  which  seemed  to  de- 
mand some  consideration.  My  safety  unquestionably  re- 
quired that  I  should  abandon  my  present  habitation. 

As  my  thoughts  began  to  flow  with  fewer  impediments, 
the  image  of  Pleyel,  and  the  dubiousness  of  his  condition, 
again  recurred  to  me.  I  again  ran  over  the  possible  causes 
of  his  absence  on  the  preceding  day.  My  mind  was  attuned 
to  melancholy.  I  dwelt,  with  an  obstinacy  for  which  I  could 
not  account,  on  the  idea  of  his  death.  I  painted  to  myself 
his  struggles  with  the  billows,  and  his  last  appearance.  I 
imagined  myself  a  midnight  wanderer  on  the  shore,  and  to 
have  stumbled  on  his  corpse,  which  the  tide  had  cast  up. 
These  dreary  images  affected  me  even  to  tears.  I  endeav- 
ored not  to  restrain  them.  They  imparted  a  relief  which  I 
had  not  anticipated.  The  more  copiously  they  flowed,  the 
more  did  my  general  sensations  appear  to  subside  into  calm, 
and  a  certain  restlessness  give  way  to  repose. 

Perhaps,  relieved  by  this  effusion,  the  slumber  so  much 
wanted  might  have  stolen  on  my  senses,  had  there  been  no 
new  cause  of  alarm. 


I  WAS  aroused  from  this  stupor  by  sounds  that  evidently 
arose  in  the  next  chamber.  Was  it  possible  that  I  had  been 
mistaken  in  the  figure  which  I  had  seen  on  the  bank?  or 
had  Carwin,  by  some  inscrutable  means,  penetrated  once 
more  into  this  chamber?  The  opposite  door  opened;  foot- 
steps came  forth,  and  the  person,  advancing  to  mine, 

So  unexpected  an  incident  robbed  me  of  all  presence 
of  mind,  and,  starting  up,  I  involuntarily  exclaimed,  "  Who 
is  there?"  An  answer  was  immediately  given.  The  voice, 
to  my  inexpressible  astonishment,  was  Pleyel's. 


Charles  Brockdcn  Brown 

"  It  is  I.  Have  you  risen  ?  If  you  have  not,  make  haste; 
I  want  three  minutes'  conversation  with  you  in  the  parlor. 
I  will  wait  for  you  there."  Saying  this,  he  retired  from  the 

Should  I  confide  in  the  testimony  of  my  ears?  If  that 
were  true,  it  was  Pleyel  that  had  been  hitherto  immured 
in  the  opposite  chamber;  he  whom  my  rueful  fancy  had 
depicted  in  so  many  ruinous  and  ghastly  shapes;  he  whose 
footsteps  had  been  listened  to  with  such  inquietude!  What 
is  man,  that  knowledge  is  so  sparingly  conferred  upon  him! 
that  his  heart  should  be  wrung  with  distress,  and  his  frame 
be  exanimated  with  fear,  though  his  safety  be  encompassed 
with  impregnable  walls!  What  are  the  bounds  of  human 
imbecility!  He  that  warned  me  of  the  presence  of  my  foe 
refused  the  intimation  by  which  so  many  racking  fears 
would  have  been  precluded. 

Yet  who  would  have  imagined  the  arrival  of  Pleyel  at 
such  an  hour?  His  tone  was  desponding  and  anxious. 
Why  this  unseasonable  summons  ?  and  why  this  hasty  de- 
parture? Some  tidings  he,  perhaps,  bears  of  mysterious 
and  unwelcome  import. 

My  impatience  would  not  allow  me  to  consume  much 
time  in  deliberation;  I  hastened  down.  Pleyel  I  found 
standing  at  a  window,  with  eyes  cast  down  as  in  medi- 
tation, and  arms  folded  on  his  breast.  Every  line  in  his 
countenance  was  pregnant  with  sorrow.  To  this  was  added 
a  certain  wanness  and  air  of  fatigue.  The  last  time  I  had 
seen  him  appearances  had  been  the  reverse  of  these.  I 
was  startled  at  the  change.  The  first  impulse  was  to  ques- 
tion him  as  to  the  cause.  This  impulse  was  supplanted 
by  some  degree  of  confusion,  flowing  from  a  consciousness 
that  love  had  too  large,  and,  as  it  might  prove,  a  percepti- 
ble, share  in  creating  this  impulse.     I  was  silent. 

Presently  he  raised  his  eyes  and  fixed  them  upon  me. 
I  read  in  them  an  anguish  altogether  ineffable.  Never  had 
I  witnessed  a  like  demeanor  in  Pleyel.  Never,  indeed,  had 
I  observed  a  human  countenance  in  which  grief  was  more 
legibly  inscribed.    He  seemed  struggling  for  utterance ;  but, 


American  Mystery  Stories 

his  struggles  being  fruitless,  he  shook  his  head  and  turned 
away  from  me. 

My  impatience  would  not  allow  me  to  be  longer  silent. 
"  What,"  said  I,  "  for  heaven's  sake,  my  friend, — what  is 
the  matter?" 

He  started  at  the  sound  of  my  voice.  His  looks,  for  a 
moment,  became  convulsed  with  an  emotion  very  different 
from  grief.     His  accents  were  broken  with  rage : — 

"The  matter!  O  wretch! — thus  exquisitely  fashioned, — 
on  whom  nature  seemed  to  have  exhausted  all  her  graces ; 
with  charms  so  awful  and  so  pure!  how  art  thou  fallen! 
From  what  height  fallen!  A  ruin  so  complete, — so  un- 
heard of! " 

His  words  were  again  choked  by  emotion.  Grief  and 
pity  were  again  mingled  in  his  features.  He  resumed,  in 
a  tone  half  suffocated  by  sobs: — 

"  But  why  should  I  upbraid  thee  ?  Could  I  restore  to  thee 
what  thou  hast  lost,  efface  this  cursed  stain,  snatch  thee 
from  the  jaws  of  this  fiend,  I  would  do  it.  Yet  what  will 
avail  my  efforts?  I  have  not  arms  with  which  to  contend 
with  so  consummate,  so  frightful  a  depravity. 

"  Evidence  less  than  this  would  only  have  excited  resent- 
ment and  scorn.  The  wretch  who  should  have  breathed  a 
suspicion  injurious  to  thy  honor  would  have  been  regarded 
without  anger:  not  hatred  or  envy  could  have  prompted 
him;  it  would  merely  be  an  argument  of  madness.  That 
my  eyes,  that  my  ears,  should  bear  witness  to  thy  fall!  By 
no  other  way  could  detestable  conviction  be  imparted. 

"Why  do  I  summon  thee  to  this  conference?  Why  ex- 
pose myself  to  thy  derision?  Here  admonition  and  en- 
treaty are  vain.  Thou  knowest  him  already  for  a  murderer 
and  thief.  I  thought  to  have  been  the  first  to  disclose  to 
thee  his  infamy;  to  have  warned  thee  of  the  pit  to  which 
thou  art  hastening;  but  thy  eyes  are  open  in  vain.  Oh,  foul 
and  insupportable  disgrace! 

"  There  is  but  one  path.  I  know  you  will  disappear  to- 
gether. In  thy  ruin,  how  will  the  felicity  and  honor  of 
multitudes  be  involved!     But  it  must  come.     This  scene 


Charles  Brockden  Brown 

shall  not  be  blotted  by  his  presence.  No  doubt  thou  wilt 
shortly  see  thy  detested  paramour.  This  scene  will  be  again 
polluted  by  a  midnight  assignation.  Inform  him  of  his 
dangers;  tell  him  that  his  crimes  are  known;  let  him  fly 
far  and  instantly  from  this  spot,  if  he  desires  to  avoid  the 
fate  which  menaced  him  in  Ireland. 

"  And  wilt  thou  not  stay  behind?  But  shame  upon  my 
weakness!  I  know  not  what  I  would  say.  I  have  donq 
what  I  purposed.  To  stay  longer,  to  expostulate,  to  be- 
seech, to  enumerate  the  consequences  of  thy  act, — what 
end  can  it  serve  but  to  blazon  thy  infamy  and  embitter  our 
woes?  And  yet,  oh,  think — think  ere  it  be  too  late — on  the 
distresses  which  thy  flight  will  entail  upon  us ;  on  the 
base,  groveling,  and  atrocious  character  of  the  wretch  to 
whom  thou  hast  sold  thy  honor.  But  what  is  this?  Is 
not  thy  effrontery  impenetrable  and  thy  heart  thoroughly 
cankered?  Oh,  most  specious  and  most  profligate  of 
women !  " 

Saying  this,  he  rushed  out  of  the  house.  I  saw  him  in 
a  few  moments  hurrying  along  the  path  which  led  to  my 
brother's.  I  had  no  power  to  prevent  his  going,  or  to 
recall  or  to  follow  him.  The  accents  I  had  heard  were  cal- 
culated to  confound  and  bewilder.  I  looked  around  me, 
to  assure  myself  that  the  scene  was  real.  I  moved,  that  I 
might  banish  the  doubt  that  I  was  awake.  Such  enormous 
imputations  from  the  mouth  of  Pleyel!  To  be  stigmatized 
with  the  names  of  wanton  and  profligate!  To  be  charged 
with  the  sacrifice  of  honor!  with  midnight  meetings  with  a 
wretch  known  to  be  a  murderer  and  thief!  with  an  intention 
to  fly  in  his  company! 

What  I  had  heard  was  surely  the  dictate  of  frenzy,  or  it 
was  built  upon  some  fatal,  some  incomprehensible  mistake. 
After  the  horrors  of  the  night,  after  undergoing  perils  so 
imminent  from  this  man,  to  be  summoned  to  an  interview 
like  this! — to  find  Pleyel  fraught  with  a  belief  that,  instead 
of  having  chosen  death  as  a  refuge  from  the  violence  of 
this  man,  I  had  hugged  his  baseness  to  my  heart,  had  sac- 
rificed for  him  my  purity,  my  spotless  name,  my  friendships, 


American  Mystery  Stories 

and  my  fortune!  That  even  madness  could  engender  accu- 
sations like  these  was  not  to  be  believed. 

What  evidence  could  possibly  suggest  conceptions  so 
wild?  After  the  unlooked-for  interview  with  Carwin  in 
my  chamber,  he  retired.  Could  Pleyel  have  observed  his 
exit?  It  was  not  long  after  that  Pleyel  himself  entered. 
Did  he  build  on  this  incident  his  odious  conclusions?  Could 
the  long  series  of  my  actions  and  sentiments  grant  me  no 
exemption  from  suspicions  so  foul?  Was  it  not  more  ra- 
tional to  infer  that  Carwin's  designs  had  been  illicit?  that 
my  life  had  been  endangered  by  the  fury  of  one  whom,  by 
some  means,  he  had  discovered  to  be  an  assassin  and  rob- 
ber? that  my  honor  had  been  assailed,  not  by  blandishments, 
but  by  violence? 

He  has  judged  me  without  hearing.  He  has  drawn  from 
dubious  appearances  conclusions  the  most  improbable  and 
unjust.  He  has  loaded  me  with  all  outrageous  epithets. 
He  has  ranked  me  with  prostitutes  and  thieves.  I  cannot 
pardon  thee,  Pleyel,  for  this  injustice.  Thy  understanding 
must  be  hurt.  If  it  be  not, — if  thy  conduct  was  sober  and 
deliberate, — I  can  never  forgive  an  outrage  so  unmanly  and 
so  gross. 

These  thoughts  gradually  gave  place  to  others.  Pleyel 
was  possessed  by  some  momentary  frenzy;  appearances  had 
led  him  into  palpable  errors.  Whence  could  his  sagacity 
have  contracted  this  blindness?  Was  it  not  love?  Pre- 
viously assured  of  my  affection  for  Carwin,  distracted  with 
grief  and  jealousy,  and  impelled  hither  at  that  late  hour  by 
some  unknown  instigation,  his  imagination  transformed 
shadows  into  monsters,  and  plunged  him  into  these  deplor- 
able errors. 

This  idea  was  not  unattended  with  consolation.  My 
soul  was  divided  between  indignation  at  his  injustice  and 
delight  on  account  of  the  source  from  which  I  conceived 
it  to  spring.  For  a  long  time  they  would  allow  admis- 
sion to  no  other  thoughts.  Surprise  is  an  emotion  that 
enfeebles,  not  invigorates.  All  my  meditations  were  ac- 
companied with  wonder.     I  rambled  with  vagueness,  or 


Charles  Brockdcn  Brown 

clung  to  one  image  with  an  obstinacy  which  sufficiently 
testified  the  maddening  influence  of  late  transactions. 

Gradually  I  proceeded  to  reflect  upon  the  consequences 
of  Pleyel's  mistake,  and  on  the  measures  I  should  take 
to  guard  myself  against  future  injury  from  Carwin.  Should 
I  suffer  this  mistake  to  be  detected  by  time?  When  his 
passion  should  subside,  would  he  not  perceive  the  flagrancy 
of  his  injustice  and  hasten  to  atone  for  it?  Did  it  not  be- 
come my  character  to  testify  resentment  for  language  and 
treatment  so  opprobrious?  Wrapped  up  in  the  conscious- 
ness of  innocence,  and  confiding  in  the  influence  of  time  and 
reflection  to  confute  so  groundless  a  charge,  it  was  my 
province  to  be  passive  and  silent. 

As  to  the  violences  meditated  by  Carwin,  and  the  means 
of  eluding  them,  the  path  to  be  taken  by  me  was  obvious. 
I  resolved  to  tell  the  tale  to  my  brother  and  regulate  myself 
by  his  advice.  For  this  end,  when  the  morning  was  some- 
what advanced,  I  took  the  way  to  his  house.  My  sister  was 
engaged  in  her  customary  occupations.  As  soon  as  I  ap- 
peared, she  remarked  a  change  in  my  looks.  I  was  not 
willing  to  alarm  her  by  the  information  which  I  had  to  com- 
municate. Her  health  was  in  that  condition  which  rendered 
a  disastrous  tale  particularly  unsuitable.  I  forbore  a  direct 
answer  to  her  inquiries,  and  inquired,  in  my  turn,  for  Wie- 

'*  Why,"  said  she,  "  I  suspect  something  mysterious  and 
unpleasant  has  happened  this  morning.  Scarcely  had  we 
risen  when  Pleyel  dropped  among  us.  What  could  have 
prompted  him  to  make  us  so  early  and  so  unseasonable  a 
visit  I  cannot  tell.  To  judge  from  the  disorder  of  his  dress, 
and  his  countenance,  something  of  an  extraordinary  nature 
has  occurred.  He  permitted  me  merely  to  know  that  he 
had  slept  none,  nor  even  undressed,  during  the  past  night. 
He  took  your  brother  to  walk  with  him.  Some  topic  must 
have  deeply  engaged  them,  for  Wieland  did  not  return 
till  the  breakfast  hour  was  passed,  and  returned  alone.  His 
disturbance  was  excessive;  but  he  would  not  listen  to  my 
importunities,  or  tell  me  what  had  happened.     I  gathered, 


American  Mystery  Stories 

from  hints  which  he  let  fall,  that  your  situation  was  in  some 
way  the  cause;  yet  he  assured  me  that  you  were  at  your 
own  house,  alive,  in  good  health,  and  in  perfect  safety.  He 
scarcely  ate  a  morsel,  and  immediately  after  breakfast  went 
out  again.  He  would  not  inform  me  whither  he  was  going, 
but  mentioned  that  he  probably  might  not  return  before 

I  was  equally  astonished  and  alarmed  by  this  informa- 
tion. Pleyel  had  told  his  tale  to  my  brother,  and  had, 
'by  a  plausible  and  exaggerated  picture,  instilled  into  him 
unfavorable  thoughts  of  me.  Yet  would  not  the  more  cor- 
rect judgment  of  Wieland  perceive  and  expose  the  fallacy 
of  his  conclusions?  Perhaps  his  uneasiness  might  arise 
from  some  insight  into  the  character  of  Carwin,  and  from 
apprehensions  for  my  safety.  The  appearances  by  which 
Pleyel  had  been  misled  might  induce  him  likewise  to  believe 
that  I  entertained  an  indiscreet  though  not  dishonorable 
affection  for  Carwin.  Such  were  the  conjectures  rapidly 
formed.  I  was  inexpressibly  anxious  to  change  them  into 
certainty.  For  this  end  an  interview  with  my  brother  was 
desirable.  He  was  gone  no  one  knew  whither,  and  was  not 
expected  speedily  to  return.  I  had  no  clew  by  which  to 
trace  his  footsteps. 

My  anxieties  could  not  be  concealed  from  my  sister. 
They  heightened  her  solicitude  to  be  acquainted  with  the 
cause.  There  were  many  reasons  persuading  me  to  silence; 
at  least,  till  I  had  seen  my  brother,  it  would  be  an  act  of 
inexcusable  temerity  to  unfold  what  had  lately  passed.  No 
other  expedient  for  eluding  her  importunities  occurred  to 
me  but  that  of  returning  to  my  own  house.  I  recollected 
my  determination  to  become  a  tenant  of  this  roof.  I  men- 
tioned it  to  her.  She  joyfully  acceded  to  this  proposal, 
and  suffered  me  with  less  reluctance  to  depart  when  I  told 
her  that  it  was  with  a  view  to  collect  and  send  to  my  new 
dwelling  what  articles  would  be  immediately  useful  to  me. 

Once  more  I  returned  to  the  house  which  had  been  the 
scene  of  so  much  turbulence  and  danger.  I  was  at  no  great 
distance  from  it  when  I  observed  my  brother  coming  out. 


Charles  Brockdcn  Brown 

On  seeing  me  he  stopped,  and,  after  ascertaining,  as  it 
seemed,  which  way  I  was  going,  he  returned  into  the  house 
before  me.  I  sincerely  rejoiced  at  this  event,  and  I  hastened 
to  set  things,  if  possible,  on  their  right  footing. 

His  brow  was  by  no  means  expressive  of  those  vehement 
emotions  with  which  Pleyel  had  been  agitated.  I  drew  a 
favorable  omen  from  this  circumstance.  Without  delay  I 
began  the  conversation. 

"  I  have  been  to  look  for  you,"  said  I,  "  but  was  told 
by  Catharine  that  Pleyel  had  engaged  you  on  some  im- 
portant and  disagreeable  aflfair.  Before  his  interview  with 
you  he  spent  a  few  minutes  with  me.  These  minutes  he 
employed  in  upbraiding  me  for  crimes  and  intentions  with 
which  I  am  by  no  means  chargeable.  I  believe  him  to  have 
taken  up  his  opinions  on  very  insufficient  grounds.  His 
behavior  was  in  the  highest  degree  precipitate  and  unjust, 
and,  until  I  receive  some  atonement,  I  shall  treat  him,  in 
my  turn,  with  that  contempt  which  he  justly  merits;  mean- 
while, I  am  fearful  that  he  has  prejudiced  my  brother 
against  me.  That  is  an  evil  which  I  most  anxiously  depre- 
cate, and  which  I  shall  indeed  exert  myself  to  remove.  Has 
he  made  me  the  subject  of  this  morning's  conversation?" 

My  brother's  countenance  testified  no  surprise  at  my 
address.    The  benignity  of  his  looks  was  nowise  diminished. 

"  It  is  true,"  said  he,  "  your  conduct  was  the  subject  of 
our  discourse.  I  am  your  friend  as  well  as  your  brother. 
There  is  no  human  being  whom  I  love  with  more  tender- 
ness and  whose  welfare  is  nearer  my  heart.  Judge,  then, 
with  what  emotions  I  listened  to  Pleyel's  story.  I  expect 
and  desire  you  to  vindicate  yourself  from  aspersions  so 
foul,  if  vindication  be  possible." 

The  tone  with  which  he  uttered  the  last  words  affected 
me  deeply.  "If  vindication  be  possible!"  repeated  I. 
"  From  what  you  know,  do  you  deem  a  formal  vindication 
necessary?  Can  you  harbor  for  a  moment  the  belief  of 
my  guilt?  " 

He  shook  his  head  with  an  air  of  acute  anguish.  "  I  have 
struggled,"  said  he,  "  to  dismiss  that  belief.    You  speak  be- 


American  Mystery  Stories 

fore  a  judge  who  will  profit  by  any  pretense  to  acquit  you ; 
who  is  ready  to  question  his  own  senses  when  they  plead 
against  you." 

These  words  incited  a  new  set  of  thoughts  in  my  mind. 
I  began  to  suspect  that  Pleyel  had  built  his  accusations 
on  some  foundation  unknown  to  me.  ''  1  may  be  a  stranger 
to  the  grounds  of  your  belief.  Pleyel  loaded  me  with  in- 
decent and  virulent  invectives,  but  he  withheld  from  me 
the  facts  that  generated  his  suspicions.  Events  took  place 
last  night  of  which  some  of  the  circumstances  were  of  an 
ambiguous  nature.  I  conceived  that  these  might  possibly 
have  fallen  under  his  cognizance,  and  that,  viewed  through 
the  mists  of  prejudice  and  passion,  they  supplied  a  pretense 
for  his  conduct,  but  believed  that  your  more  unbiased 
judgment  would  estimate  them  at  their  just  value.  Per- 
haps his  tale  has  been  different  from  what  I  suspect  it  to 
be.  Listen,  then,  to  my  narrative.  If  there  be  anything 
in  his  story  inconsistent  with  mine,  his  story  is  false." 

I  then  proceeded  to  a  circumstantial  relation  of  the  inci- 
dents of  the  last  night.  Wieland  listened  with  deep  atten- 
tion. Having  finished,  "  This,"  continued  I,  "  is  the  truth. 
You  see  in  what  circumstances  an  interview  took  place 
between  Carwin  and  me.  He  remained  for  hours  in  my 
closet,  and  for  some  minutes  in  my  chamber.  He  departed 
without  haste  or  interruption.  If  Pleyel  marked  him  as 
he  left  the  house,  (and  it  is  not  impossible  that  he  did,)  in- 
ferences injurious  to  my  character  might  suggest  them- 
selves to  him.  In  admitting  them,  he  gave  proofs  of  less 
discernment  and  less  candor  than  I  once  ascribed  to  him." 

"  His  proofs,"  said  Wieland,  after  a  considerable  pause, 
"  are  different.  That  he  should  be  deceived  is  not  possible. 
That  he  himself  is  not  the  deceiver  could  not  be  believed, 
if  his  testimony  were  not  inconsistent  with  yours;  but  the 
doubts  which  I  entertained  are  now  removed.  Your  tale, 
some  parts  of  it,  is  marvelous;  the  voice  which  exclaimed 
against  your  rashness  in  approaching  the  closet,  your  per- 
sisting, notwithstanding  that  prohibition,  your  belief  that 
I  was  the  ruffian,  and  your  subsequent  conduct,  are  be- 


Charles  Brockden  Brown 

lieved  by  me,  because  I  have  known  you  from  childhood, 
because  a  thousand  instances  have  attested  your  veracity, 
and  because  nothing  less  than  my  own  hearing  and  vision 
would  convince  me,  in  opposition  to  her  own  assertions, 
that  my  sister  had  fallen  into  wickedness  like  this." 

I  threw  my  arms  around  him  and  bathed  his  cheek  with 
my  tears.  "  That,"  said  I,  "  is  spoken  like  my  brother. 
But  what  are  the  proofs?" 

He  replied,  "  Pleyel  informed  me  that,  in  going  to  your 
house,  his  attention  was  attracted  by  two  voices.  The 
persons  speaking  sat  beneath  the  bank,  out  of  sight.  These 
persons,  judging  by  their  voices,  were  Carwin  and  you.  I 
will  not  repeat  the  dialogue.  If  my  sister  was  the  female, 
Pleyel  was  justified  in  concluding  you  to  be  indeed  one  of 
the  most  profligate  of  women.  Hence  his  accusations  of 
you,  and  his  efforts  to  obtain  my  concurrence  to  a  plan  by 
which  an  eternal  separation  should  be  brought  about  be- 
tween my  sister  and  this  man." 

I  made  Wieland  repeat  this  recital.  Here  indeed  was  a 
tale  to  fill  me  with  terrible  foreboding.  I  had  vainly  thought 
that  my  safety  could  be  sufficiently  secured  by  doors  and 
bars,  but  this  is  a  foe  from  whose  grasp  no  power  of  divinity 
can  save  me!  His  artifices  will  ever  lay  my  fame  and  hap- 
piness at  his  mercy.  How  shall  I  counterwork  his  plots 
or  detect  his  coadjutor?  He  has  taught  some  vile  and  aban- 
doned female  to  mimic  my  voice.  Pleyel's  ears  were  the 
witnesses  of  my  dishonor.  This  is  the  midnight  assignation 
to  which  he  alluded.  Thus  is  the  silence  he  maintained 
when  attempting  to  open  the  door  of  my  chamber,  ac- 
counted for.  He  supposed  me  absent,  and  meant,  perhaps, 
had  my  apartment  been  accessible,  to  leave  in  it  some  accus- 
ing memorial. 


American  Mystery  Stories 


As  this  part  opens,  the  unhappy  Clara  is  describing  her  hurried 
return  to  the  same  ill-fated  abode  at  Mettingen.  Hence  kind 
friends  had  borne  her  after  the  catastrophe  of  her  brother  Wie- 
land's  "transformation."  This  was  the  crowning  horror  of  all: 
the  morbid  fanatic,  prepared  by  gloomy  anticipations  of  some  ter- 
rible sacrifice  to  be  demanded  in  the  name  of  religion,  had  found 
himself  goaded  to  blind  fury,  by  a  mysterious  compelling  voice,  to 
yield  up  to  God  the  lives  of  his  beloved  wife  and  family;  and  had 
done  the  awful  deed! 

Though  chained  in  his  madhouse,  he  persists  in  his  delusion;  in- 
sists that  it  still  remains  for  him  to  sacrifice  his  sister  Clara;  and 
twice  breaks  away  in  wild  efforts  to  find  and  destroy  her. 

I  TOOK  an  irregular  path  v^hich  led  me  to  my  own  house. 
All  was  vacant  and  forlorn.  A  small  enclosure  near  which 
the  path  led  was  the  burying  ground  belonging  to  the 
family.  This  I  was  obliged  to  pass.  Once  I  had  intended 
to  enter  it,  and  ponder  on  the  emblems  and  inscriptions 
which  my  uncle  had  caused  to  be  made  on  the  tombs  of 
Catharine  and  her  children;  but  now  my  heart  faltered  as  I 
approached,  and  I  hastened  forward  that  distance  might 
conceal  it  from  my  view. 

When  I  approached  the  recess,  my  heart  again  sunk.  I 
averted  my  eyes,  and  left  it  behind  me  as  quickly  as  pos- 
sible. Silence  reigned  through  my  habitation,  and  a  dark- 
ness which  closed  doors  and  shutters  produced.  Every 
object  was  connected  with  mine  or  my  brother's  history. 
I  passed  the  entry,  mounted  the  stair,  and  unlocked  the 
door  of  my  chamber.  It  was  with  difBculty  that  I  curbed 
my  fancy  and  smothered  my  fears.  Slight  movements  and 
casual  sounds  were  transformed  into  beckoning  shadows 
and  calling  shapes. 

I  proceeded  to  the  closet.  I  opened  and  looked  round  it 
with    fearfulness.      All    things   were   in    their    accustomed 


Charles  Brockden  Brown 

order.  I  sought  and  found  the  manuscript  where  I  was 
used  to  deposit  it.  This  being  secured,  there  was  nothing 
to  detain  me ;  yet  I  stood  and  contemplated  awhile  the 
furniture  and  walls  of  my  chamber.  I  remembered  how 
long  this  apartment  had  been  a  sweet  and  tranquil  asylum ; 
I  compared  its  former  state  with  its  present  dreariness,  and 
reflected  that  I  now  beheld  it  for  the  last  time. 

Here  it  was  that  the  incomprehensible  behavior  of  Car- 
win  was  witnessed;  this  the  stage  on  which  that  enemy  of 
man  showed  himself  for  a  moment  unmasked.  Here  the 
menaces  of  murder  were  wafted  to  my  ear ;  and  here  these 
menaces  were  executed. 

These  thoughts  had  a  tendency  to  take  from  me  my  self- 
command.  My  feeble  limbs  refused  to  support  me,  and  I 
sunk  upon  a  chair.  Incoherent  and  half-articulate  exclama- 
tions escaped  my  lips.  The  name  of  Carwin  was  uttered, 
and  eternal  woes — woes  like  that  which  his  malice  had  en- 
tailed upon  us — were  heaped  upon  him.  I  invoked  all- 
seeing  heaven  to  drag  to  light  and  punish  this  betrayer,  and 
accused  its  providence  for  having  thus  long  delayed  the 
retribution  that  was  due  to  so  enormous  a  guilt. 

I  have  said  that  the  window  shutters  were  closed.  A 
feeble  light,  however,  found  entrance  through  the  crevices. 
A  small  window  illuminated  the  closet,  and,  the  door  being 
closed,  a  dim  ray  streamed  through  the  keyhole.  A  kind 
of  twilight  was  thus  created,  sufficient  for  the  purposes  of 
vision,  but,  at  the  same  time,  involving  all  minuter  objects 
in  obscurity. 

This  darkness  suited  the  color  of  my  thoughts.  I  sick- 
ened at  the  remembrance  of  the  past.  The  prospect  of  the 
future  excited  my  loathing.  I  muttered,  in  a  low  voice, 
"  Why  should  I  live  longer  ?  Why  should  I  drag  a  miser- 
able being?  All  for  whom  I  ought  to  live  have  perished. 
Am  I  not  myself  hunted  to  death  ?  " 

At  that  moment  my  despair  suddenly  became  vigorous. 
My  nerves  were  no  longer  unstrung.  My  powers,  that  had 
long  been  deadened,  were  revived.  My  bosom  swelled  with 
a  sudden  energy,  and  the  conviction  darted  through  my 


American  Mystery  Stories 

mind,  that  to  end  my  torments  was,  at  once,  practicable 
and  wise. 

I  knew  how  to  find  way  to  the  recesses  of  life.  I 
could  use  a  lancet  with  some  skill,  and  could  distinguish 
between  vein  and  artery.  By  piercing  deep  into  the  latter, 
I  should  shun  the  evils  which  the  future  had  in  store  for 
me,  and  take  refuge  from  my  woes  in  quiet  death. 

I  started  on  my  feet,  for  my  feebleness  was  gone,  and 
hasted  to  the  closet.  A  lancet  and  other  small  instruments 
were  preserved  in  a  case  which  I  had  deposited  here.  In- 
attentive as  I  was  to  foreign  considerations,  my  ears  were 
still  open  to  any  sound  of  mysterious  import  that  should 
occur.  I  thought  I  heard  a  step  in  the  entry.  My  purpose 
was  suspended,  and  I  cast  an  eager  glance  at  my  chamber 
door,  which  was  open.  No  one  appeared,  unless  the 
shadow  which  I  discerned  upon  the  floor  was  the  outline 
of  a  man.  If  it  were,  I  was  authorized  to  suspect  that 
some  one  was  posted  close  to  the  entrance,  who  possibly 
had  overheard  my  exclamations. 

My  teeth  chattered,  and  a  wild  confusion  took  the  place 
of  my  momentary  calm.  Thus  it  was  when  a  terrific  visage 
had  disclosed  itself  on  a  former  night.  Thus  it  was  when 
the  evil  destiny  of  Wieland  assumed  the  lineaments  of  some- 
thing human.  What  horrid  apparition  was  preparing  to 
blast  my  sight? 

Still  I  listened  and  gazed.  Not  long,  for  the  shadow 
moved ;  a  foot,  unshapely  and  huge,  was  thrust  forward ; 
a  form  advanced  from  its  concealment,  and  stalked  into 
the  room.     It  was  Carwin ! 

While  I  had  breath,  I  shrieked.  While  I  had  power  over 
my  muscles,  I  motioned  with  my  hand  that  he  should  van- 
ish.   My  exertions  could  not  last  long:  I  sunk  into  a  fit. 

Oh  that  this  grateful  oblivion  had  lasted  forever!  Too 
quickly  I  recovered  my  senses.  The  power  of  distinct 
vision  was  no  sooner  restored  to  me,  than  this  hateful  form 
again  presented  itself,  and  I  once  more  relapsed. 

A  second  time,  untoward  nature  recalled  me  from  the 
sleep  of  death,     I   found  myself  stretched  upon  the  bed. 


Charles  Brockden  Brown 

When  I  had  power  to  look  up,  I  remembered  only  that  I 
had  cause  to  fear.  My  distempered  fancy  fashioned  to 
itself  no  distinguishable  image.  I  threw  a  languid  glance 
round  me :  once  more  my  eyes  lighted  upon  Carwin, 

He  was  seated  on  the  floor,  his  back  rested  against  the 
wall ;  his  knees  were  drawn  up,  and  his  face  was  buried  in 
his  hands.  That  his  station  was  at  some  distance,  that  his 
attitude  was  not  menacing,  that  his  ominous  visage  was 
concealed,  may  account  for  my  now  escaping  a  shock  vio- 
lent as  those  which  were  past.  I  withdrew  my  eyes,  but 
was  not  again  deserted  by  my  senses. 

On  perceiving  that  I  had  recovered  my  sensibility,  he 
lifted  his  head.  This  motion  attracted  my  attention.  His 
countenance  was  mild,  but  sorrow  and  astonishment  sat 
upon  his  features.  I  averted  my  eyes  and  feebly  exclaimed, 
"  Oh,  fly ! — fly  far  and  forever ! — I  cannot  behold  you  and 
live !  " 

He  did  not  rise  upon  his  feet,  but  clasped  his  hands,  and 
said,  in  a  tone  of  deprecation,  "  I  will  fly.  I  am  become  a 
fiend,  the  sight  of  whom  destroys.  Yet  tell  me  my  oflEense ! 
You  have  linked  curses  with  my  name ;  you  ascribe  to  me 
a  malice  monstrous  and  infernal.  I  look  around :  all  is 
loneliness  and  desert!  This  house  and  your  brother's  are 
solitary  and  dismantled !  You  die  away  at  the  sight  of  me ! 
My  fear  whispers  that  some  deed  of  horror  has  been  per- 
petrated ;  that  I  am  the  undesigning  cause." 

What  language  was  this?  Had  he  not  avowed  himself 
a  ravisher?  Had  not  this  chamber  witnessed  his  atrocious 
purposes?    I  besought  him  with  new  vehemence  to  go. 

He  lifted  his  eyes: — "Great  heaven!  what  have  I  done? 
I  think  I  know  the  extent  of  my  offenses.  I  have  acted, 
but  my  actions  have  possibly  effected  more  than  I  designed. 
This  fear  has  brought  me  back  from  my  retreat.  I  come 
to  repair  the  evil  of  which  my  rashness  was  the  cause,  and 
to  prevent  more  evil.    I  come  to  confess  my  errors," 

"  Wretch !  "  I  cried,  when  mv  suffocating  emotions  would 
permit  me  to  speak,  "  the  ghosts  of  my  sister  and  her  chil- 
dren,— do  they  not  rise  to  accuse  thee?    Who  was  it  that 


American  Mystery  Stories 

blasted  the  intellect  of  Wieland?  Who  was  it  that  urged 
him  to  fury  and  guided  him  to  murder  ?  Who,  but  thou  and 
the  devil,  with  whom  thou  art  confederated?" 

At  these  words  a  new  spirit  pervaded  his  countenance. 
His  eyes  once  more  appealed  to  heaven.  "  If  I  have  mem- 
ory— if  I  have  being — I  am  innocent.  I  intended  no  ill ; 
but  my  folly,  indirectly  and  remotely,  may  have  caused  it. 
But  what  words  are  these  ?  Your  brother  lunatic !  His 
children  dead !  " 

What  should  I  infer  from  this  deportment?  Was  the 
ignorance  which  these  words  implied  real  or  pretended? 
Yet  how  could  I  imagine  a  mere  human  agency  in  these 
events?  But,  if  the  influence  was  preternatural  or  maniacal 
in  my  brother's  case,  they  must  be  equally  so  in  my  own. 
Then  I  remembered  that  the  voice  exerted  was  to  save  me 
from  Carwin's  attempts.  These  ideas  tended  to  abate  my 
abhorrence  of  this  man,  and  to  detect  the  absurdity  of  my 

"  Alas !  "  said  I,  "  I  have  no  one  to  accuse.  Leave  me 
to  my  fate.  Fly  from  a  scene  stained  with  cruelty,  devoted 
to  despair." 

Carwin  stood  for  a  time  musing  and  mournful.  At 
length  he  said,  "  What  has  happened  ?  I  came  to  expiate 
my  crimes :  let  me  know  them  in  their  full  extent.  I  have 
horrible  forebodings !     What  has  happened  ?  " 

I  was  silent ;  but,  recollecting  the  intimation  given  by 
this  man  when  he  was  detected  in  my  closet,  which  implied 
some  knowledge  of  that  power  which  interfered  in  my 
favor,  I  eagerly  inquired,  "  What  was  that  voice  which 
called  upon  me  to  hold  when  I  attempted  to  open  the  closet  ? 
What  face  was  that  which  I  saw  at  the  bottom  of  the  stairs  ? 
Answer  me  truly." 

"  I  came  to  confess  the  truth.  Your  allusions  are  hor- 
rible and  strange.  Perhaps  I  have  but  faint  conceptions 
of  the  evils  which  my  infatuation  has  produced ;  but  what 
remains  I  will  perform.  It  was  my  voice  that  you  heard ! 
It  was  my  face  that  you  saw !  " 

For  a  moment  I  doubted  whether  my  remembrance  of 


Charles  Brockden  Brown 

events  were  not  confused.  How  could  he  be  at  once  sta- 
tioned at  my  shoulder  and  shut  up  in  my  closet?  How 
could  he  stand  near  me  and  yet  be  invisible?  But  if  Car- 
win's  were  the  thrilling  voice  and  the  fiery  image  which  I 
had  heard  and  seen,  then  was  he  the  prompter  of  my 
brother,  and  the  author  of  these  dismal  outrages. 

Once  more  I  averted  my  eyes  and  struggled  for  speech : — 
"  Begone !  thou  man  of  mischief !  Remorseless  and  im- 
placable miscreant,  begone !  " 

"  I  will  obey,"  said  he,  in  a  disconsolate  voice ;  "  yet, 
wretch  as  I  am,  am  I  unworthy  to  repair  the  evils  that  I 
have  committed?  I  came  as  a  repentant  criminal.  It  is 
you  whom  I  have  injured,  and  at  your  bar  am  I  willing 
to  appear  and  confess  and  expiate  my  crimes.  I  have  de- 
ceived you ;  I  have  sported  with  your  terrors  ;  I  have  plotted 
to  destroy  your  reputation.  I  come  now  to  remove  your 
terrors ;  to  set  you  beyond  the  reach  of  similar  fears ;  to 
rebuild  your  fame  as  far  as  I  am  able. 

"  This  is  the  amount  of  my  guilt,  and  this  the  fruit  of 
my  remorse.  Will  you  not  hear  me?  Listen  to  my  con- 
fession, and  then  denounce  punishment.  All  I  ask  is  a 
patient  audience." 

"  What !  "  I  replied ;  "  was  not  thine  the  voice  that  com- 
manded my  brother  to  imbrue  his  hands  in  the  blood  of 
his  children? — to  strangle  that  angel  of  sweetness,  his  wife? 
Has  he  not  vowed  my  death,  and  the  death  of  Pleyel,  at 
thy  bidding?  Hast  thou  not  made  him  the  butcher  of  his 
family? — changed  him  who  was  the  glory  of  his  species 
into  worse  than  brute? — robbed  him  of  reason  and  con- 
signed the  rest  of  his  days  to  fetters  and  stripes  ?  " 

Carwin's  eyes  glared  and  his  limbs  were  petrified  at  this 
intelligence.  No  words  were  requisite  to  prove  him  guilt- 
less of  these  enormities :  at  the  time,  however,  I  was  nearly 
insensible  to  these  exculpatory  tokens.  He  walked  to  the 
farther  end  of  the  room,  and,  having  recovered  some  de- 
gree of  composure,  he  spoke : — 

"  I  am  not  this  villain.  I  have  slain  no  one ;  I  have 
prompted  none  to  slay ;  I  have  handled  a  tool  of  wonder- 


American  Mystery  Stories 

ful  efficacy  without  malignant  intentions,  but  without  cau- 
tion. Ample  will  be  the  punishment  of  my  temerity,  if  my 
conduct  has  contributed  to  this  evil."     He  paused. 

I  likewise  was  silent.  I  struggled  to  command  myself 
so  far  as  to  listen  to  the  tale  which  he  should  tell.  Observ- 
ing this,  he  continued : — 

"  You  are  not  apprised  of  the  existence  of  a  power  which 
I  possess.  I  know  not  by  what  name  to  call  it.^  It  enables 
me  to  mimic  exactly  the  voice  of  another,  and  to  modify 
the  sound  so  that  it  shall  appear  to  come  from  what  quarter 
and  be  uttered  at  what  distance  I  please. 

"  I  know  not  that  everyone  possesses  this  power.  Per- 
haps, though  a  casual  position  of  my  organs  in  my  youth 
showed  me  that  I  possessed  it,  it  is  an  art  which  may  be 
taught  to  all.  Would  to  God  I  had  died  unknowing  of 
the  secret!  It  has  produced  nothing  but  degradation  and 

1  Biloquium,  or  ventrilocution.  Sound  is  varied  according  to  the 
variations  of  direction  and  distance.  The  art  of  the  ventriloquist 
consists  in  modifying  his  voice  according  to  all  these  variations, 
without  changing  his  place.  See  the  work  of  the  Ahh6  de  la  Chap- 
pelle,  in  which  are  accurately  recorded  the  performances  of  one  of 
these  artists,  and  some  ingenious  though  unsatisfactory  speculations 
are  given  on  the  means  by  which  the  effects  are  produced.  This 
power  is,  perhaps,  given  by  nature,  but  is  doubtless  improvable, 
if  not  acquirable,  by  art.  It  may,  possibly,  consist  in  an  unusual 
flexibility  or  extension  of  the  bottom  of  the  tongue  and  the  uvula. 
That  speech  is  producible  by  these  alone  must  be  granted,  since 
anatomists  mention  two  instances  of  persons  speaking  without  a 
tongue.  In  one  case  the  organ  was  originally  wanting,  but  its 
place  was  supplied  by  a  small  tubercle,  and  the  uvula  was  perfect. 
In  the  other  the  tongue  was  destroyed  by  disease,  but  probably 
a  small  part  of  it  remained. 

This  power  is  difficult  to  explain,  but  the  fact  is  undeniable.  Ex- 
perience shows  that  the  human  voice  can  imitate  the  voice  of  all 
men  and  of  all  inferior ^mimals.  The  sound  of  musical  instruments, 
and  even  noises  from  the  contact  of  inanimate  substances,  have 
been  accurately  imitated.  The  mimicry  of  animals  is  notorious; 
and  Dr.  Burney  ("Musical  Travels")  mentions  one  who  imitated  a 
flute  and  violin,  so  as  to  deceive  even  his  ears. 


Charles  Brockden  Brown 


After  Carwin's  confession  of  his  powers  of  ventriloquism  all 
the  mysteries  are  cleared  up — save  one.  The  owner  of  the  voice 
heard  in  Clara's  chamber,  on  the  first  night  after  the  wanderer 
appeared  at  Mettingen ;  the  threatener  on  the  edge  of  the  precipice ; 
the  spy  in  Clara's  closet,  and  would-be  intruder;  the  manipulator 
of  the  vile  plot  that  destroyed  her  lover's  confidence — all  these 
hidden  identities  have  materialized  in  the  person  of  this  one  un- 
happy man.  But  while  confessing  the  prying  disposition  which 
led  to  these  sins,  in  efforts  to  protect  himself  from  discovery, 
Carwin  still  denies  that  Wieland's  mad  acts  were  perpetrated  at 
his  instigation. 

"  I  HAVE  Uttered  the  truth.  This  is  the  extent  of  my 
offenses.  You  tell  me  a  horrid  tale  of  Wieland  being  led 
to  the  destruction  of  his  wife  and  children  by  some  mys- 
terious agent.  You  charge  me  with  the  guilt  of  this  agency  ; 
but  I  repeat  that  the  amount  of  my  guilt  has  been  truly 
stated.  The  perpetrator  of  Catharine's  death  was  unknown 
to  me  till  now ;  nay,  it  is  still  unknown  to  me." 

At  that  moment,  the  closing  of  a  door  in  the  kitchen 
was  distinctly  heard  by  us.  Carwin  started  and  paused. 
"  There  is  some  one  coming.  I  must  not  be  found  here  by 
my  enemies,  and  need  not,  since  my  purpose  is  answered." 

I  had  drunk  in,  with  the  most  vehement  attention,  every 
word  that  he  had  uttered.  I  had  no  breath  to  interrupt  his 
tale  by  interrogations  or  comments.  The  power  that  he 
spoke  of  was  hitherto  unknown  to  me;  its  existence  was 
incredible ;  it  was  susceptible  of  no  direct  proof. 

He  owns  that  his  were  the  voice  and  face  which  I  heard 
and  saw.  He  attempts  to  give  a  human  explanation  of 
these  phantasms ;  but  it  is  enough  that  he  owns  himself 
to  be  the  agent :  his  tale  is  a  lie,  and  his  nature  devilish. 
As  he  deceived  me,  he  likewise  deceived  my  brother,  and 
now  do  I  behold  the  author  of  all  our  calamities ! 

Such  were  my  thoughts  when  his  pause  allowed  me  to 


American  Mystery  Stories 

think.  I  should  have  bade  him  begone  if  the  silence  had 
not  been  interrupted ;  but  now  I  feared  no  more  for  myself ; 
and  the  milkiness  of  my  nature  was  curdled  into  hatred  and 
rancor.  Some  one  was  near,  and  this  enemy  of  God  and 
man  might  possibly  be  brought  to  justice.  I  reflected  not 
that  the  preternatural  power  which  he  had  hitherto  exerted 
would  avail  to  rescue  him  from  any  toils  in  which  his  feet 
might  be  entangled.  Meanwhile,  looks,  and  not  words,  of 
menace  and  abhorrence,  were  all  that  I  could  bestow. 

He  did  not  depart.  He  seemed  dubious  whether  by  pass- 
ing out  of  the  house,  or  by  remaining  somewhat  longer 
where  he  was,  he  should  most  endanger  his  safety.  His 
confusion  increased  when  steps  of  one  barefoot  were  heard 
upon  the  stairs.  He  threw  anxious  glances  sometimes  at 
the  closet,  sometimes  at  the  window,  and  sometimes  at  the 
chamber  door;  yet  he  was  detained  by  some  inexplicable 
fascination.     He  stood  as  if  rooted  to  the  spot. 

As  to  me,  my  soul  was  bursting  with  detestation  and 
revenge.  I  had  no  room  for  surmises  and  fears  respect- 
ing him  that  approached.  It  was  doubtless  a  human  being, 
and  would  befriend  me  so  far  as  to  aid  me  in  arresting  this 

The  stranger  quickly  entered  the  room.  My  eyes  and 
the  eyes  of  Carwin  were  at  the  same  moment  darted  upon 
him.  A  second  glance  was  not  needed  to  inform  us  who 
he  was.  His  locks  were  tangled,  and  fell  confusedly  over 
his  forehead  and  ears.  His  shirt  was  of  coarse  stuff,  and 
open  at  the  neck  and  breast.  His  coat  was  once  of  bright 
and  fine  texture,  but  now  torn  and  tarnished  with  dust. 
His  feet,  his  legs,  and  his  arms,  were  bare.  His  features 
were  the  seat  of  a  wild  and  tranquil  solemnity,  but  his  eyes 
bespoke  inquietude  and  curiosity. 

He  advanced  with  a  firm  step,  and  looking  as  in  search 
of  some  one.  He  saw  me  and  stopped.  He  bent  his  sight 
on  the  floor,  and,  clenching  his  hands,  appeared  suddenly 
absorbed  in  meditation.  Such  were  the  figure  and  deport- 
ment of  Wieland !  Such,  in  his  fallen  state,  were  the  aspect 
and  guise  of  my  brother! 


Charles  Brockden  Brown 

Carwin  did  not  fail  to  recognize  the  visitant.  Care  for 
his  own  safety  was  apparently  swallowed  up  in  the  amaze- 
ment which  this  spectacle  produced.  His  station  was  con- 
spicuous, and  he  could  not  have  escaped  the  roving  glances 
of  Wieland ;  yet  the  latter  seemed  totally  unconscious  of 
his  presence. 

Grief  at  this  scene  of  ruin  and  blast  was  at  first  the  only 
sentiment  of  which  I  was  conscious.  A  fearful  stillness 
ensued.  At  length  Wieland,  lifting  his  hands,  which  were 
locked  in  each  other,  to  his  breast,  exclaimed,  "  Father !  I 
thank  thee.  This  is  thy  guidance.  Hither  thou  hast  led 
me,  that  I  might  perform  thy  will.  Yet  let  me  not  err ; 
let  me  hear  again  thy  messenger !  " 

He  stood  for  a  minute  as  if  listening;  but,  recovering 
from  his  attitude,  he  continued,  "  It  is  not  needed.  Das- 
tardly wretch !  thus  eternally  questioning  the  behests  of  thy 
Maker !  weak  in  resolution,  wayward  in  faith !  " 

He  advanced  to  me,  and,  after  another  pause,  resumed : — 
"  Poor  girl !  a  dismal  fate  has  set  its  mark  upon  thee.  Thy 
life  is  demanded  as  a  sacrifice.  Prepare  thee  to  die.  Make 
not  my  office  difficult  by  fruitless  opposition.  Thy  prayers 
might  subdue  stones ;  but  none  but  he  who  enjoined  my 
purpose  can  shake  it." 

These  words  were  a  sufficient  explication  of  the  scene. 
The  nature  of  his  frenzy,  as  described  by  my  uncle,  was 
remembered.  I,  who  had  sought  death,  was  now  thrilled 
with  horror  because  it  was  near.  Death  in  this  form,  death 
from  the  hand  of  a  brother,  was  thought  upon  with  inde- 
scribable repugnance. 

In  a  state  thus  verging  upon  madness,  my  eye  glanced 
upon  Carwin.  His  astonishment  appeared  to  have  struck 
him  motionless  and  dumb.  My  life  was  in  danger,  and  my 
brother's  hapd  was  about  to  be  imbrued  in  my  blood.  I 
firmly  believed  that  Carwin's  was  the  instigation.  I  could 
rescue  myself  from  this  abhorred  fate ;  I  could  dissipate 
this  tremendous  illusion ;  I  could  save  my  brother  from  the 
perpetration  of  new  horrors,  by  pointing  out  the  devil  who 
seduced  him.    To  hesitate  a  moment  was  to  perish.    These 


American  Mystery  Stories 

thoughts  gave  strength  to  my  limbs  and  energy  to  my 
accents  ;  I  started  on  my  feet : — 

"  Oh,  brother !  spare  me !  spare  thyself !  There  is  thy 
betrayer.  He  counterfeited  the  voice  and  face  of  an  angel, 
for  the  purpose  of  destroying  thee  and  me.  He  has  this 
moment  confessed  it.  He  is  able  to  speak  where  he  is  not. 
He  is  leagued  with  hell,  but  will  not  avow  it;  yet  he  con- 
fesses that  the  agency  was  his." 

My  brother  turned  slowly  his  eyes,  and  fixed  them  upon 
Carwin.  Every  joint  in  the  frame  of  the  latter  trembled. 
His  complexion  was  paler  than  a  ghost's.  His  eye  dared 
not  meet  that  of  Wieland,  but  wandered  with  an  air  of 
distraction  from  one  space  to  another. 

"  Man,"  said  my  brother,  in  a  voice  totally  unlike  that 
which  he  had  used  to  me,  "  what  art  thou  ?  The  charge 
has  been  made.  Answer  it.  The  visage — the  voice — at  the 
bottom  of  these  stairs — at  the  hour  of  eleven — to  whom  did 
they  belong?    To  thee?" 

Twice  did  Carwin  attempt  to  speak,  but  his  words  died 
away  upon  his  lips.  My  brother  resumed,  in  a  tone  of 
greater  vehemence: — 

"  Thou  falterest.  Faltering  is  ominous.  Say  yes  or  no ; 
one  word  will  suffice ;  but  beware  of  falsehood.  Was  it  a 
stratagem  of  hell  to  overthrow  my  family?  Wast  thou  the 

I  now  saw  that  the  wrath  which  had  been  prepared  for 
me  was  to  be  heaped  upon  another.  The  tale  that  I  heard 
from  him,  and  his  present  trepidations,  were  abundant  tes- 
timonies of  his  guilt.  But  what  if  Wieland  should  be  un- 
deceived !  What  if  he  shall  find  his  act  to  have  proceeded 
not  from  a  heavenly  prompter,  but  from  human  treachery ! 
Will  not  his  rage  mount  into  whirlwind?  Will  not  he  tear 
limb  from  limb  this  devoted  wretch? 

Instinctively  I  recoiled  from  this  image ;  but  it  gave  place 
to  another.  Carwin  may  be  innocent,  but  the  impetuosity 
of  his  judge  may  misconstrue  his  answers  into  a  confession 
of  guilt.  Wieland  knows  not  that  mysterious  voices  and 
appearances  were  likewise  witnessed  by  me.     Carwin  may 


Charles  Brockdcn  Brown 

be  ignorant  of  those  which  misled  my  brother.     Thus  may 
his  answers  unwarily  betray  himself  to  ruin. 

Such  might  be  the  consequences  of  my  frantic  precipita- 
tion, and  these  it  was  necessary,  if  possible,  to  prevent.  I 
attempted  to  speak ;  but  Wieland,  turning  suddenly  upon 
me,  commanded  silence,  in  a  tone  furious  and  terrible.  My 
lips  closed,  and  my  tongue  refused  its  office. 

"  What  art  thou  ?  "  he  resumed,  addressing  himself  to 
Carwin.  "  Answer  me :  whose  form — whose  voice, — was  it 
thy  contrivance?    Answer  me." 

The  answer  was  now  given,  but  confusedly  and  scarcely 
articulated.  "  I  meant  nothing — I  intended  no  ill — if  I 
understand — if  I  do  not  mistake  you — it  is  too  true — I  did 
appear — in  the  entry — did  speak.  The  contrivance  was 
mine,  but " 

These  words  were  no  sooner  uttered,  than  my  brother 
ceased  to  wear  the  same  aspect.  His  eyes  were  downcast ; 
he  was  motionless ;  his  respiration  became  hoarse,  like  that 
of  a  man  in  the  agonies  of  death.  Carwin  seemed  unable 
to  say  more.  He  might  have  easily  escaped ;  but  the 
thought  which  occupied  him  related  to  what  was  horrid  and 
unintelligible  in  this  scene,  and  not  to  his  own  danger. 

Presently  the  faculties  of  Wieland,  which,  for  a  time, 
were  chained  up,  were  seized  with  restlessness  and  trem- 
bling. He  broke  silence.  The  stoutest  heart  would  have 
been  appalled  by  the  tone  in  which  he  spoke.  He  addressed 
himself  to  Carwin : — 

"  Why  art  thou  here  ?  Who  detains  thee  ?  Go  and  learn 
better.  I  will  meet  thee,  but  it  must  be  at  the  bar  of  thy 
Maker.     There  shall  I  bear  witness  against  thee." 

Perceiving  that  Carwin  did  not  obey,  he  continued,  "  Dost 
thou  wish  me  to  complete  the  catalogue  by  thy  death? 
Thy  life  is  a  worthless  thing.  Tempt  me  no  more.  I  am 
but  a  man,  and  thy  presence  may  awaken  a  fury  which 
may  spurn  my  control.     Begone !  " 

Carwin,  irresolute,  striving  in  vain  for  utterance,  his 
complexion  pallid  as  death,  his  knees  beating  one  against 
another,  slowly  obeyed  the  mandate  and  withdrew. 


American  Mystery  Stories 


A  FEW  words  more  and  I  lay  aside  the  pen  forever.  Yet 
why  should  I  not  relinquish  it  now?  All  that  I  have  said 
is  preparatory  to  this  scene,  and  my  fingers,  tremulous  and 
cold  as  my  heart,  refuse  any  further  exertion.  This  must 
not  be.  Let  my  last  energies  support  me  in  the  finishing 
of  this  task.  Then  will  I  lay  down  my  head  in  the  lap  of 
death.  Hushed  will  be  all  my  murmurs  in  the  sleep  of  the 

Every  sentiment  has  perished  in  my  bosom.  Even  friend- 
ship is  extinct.  Your  love  for  me  has  prompted  me  to  this 
task;  but  I  would  not  have  complied  if  it  had  not  been  a 
luxury  thus  to  feast  upon  my  woes.  I  have  justly  calcu- 
lated upon  my  remnant  of  strength.  When  I  lay  down  the 
pen  the  taper  of  life  will  expire ;  my  existence  will  terminate 
with  my  tale. 

Now  that  I  was  left  alone  with  Wieland,  the  perils  of 
my  situation  presented  themselves  to  my  mind.  That  this 
paroxysm  should  terminate  in  havoc  and  rage  it  was  rea- 
sonable to  predict.  The  first  suggestion  of  my  fears  had 
been  disproved  by  my  experience.  Carwin  had  acknowl- 
edged his  offenses,  and  yet  had  escaped.  The  vengeance 
which  I  had  harbored  had  not  been  admitted  by  Wieland ; 
and  yet  the  evils  which  I  had  endured,  compared  with  those 
inflicted  on  my  brother,  were  as  nothing.  I  thirsted  for 
his  blood,  and  was  tormented  with  an  insatiable  appetite 
for  his  destruction ;  but  my  brother  was  unmoved,  and  had 
dismissed  him  in  safety.  Surely  thou  wast  more  than  man, 
while  I  am  sunk  below  the  beasts. 

Did  I  place  a  right  construction  on  the  conduct  of  Wie- 
land? Was  the  error  that  misled  him  so  easily  rectified? 
Were  views  so  vivid  and  faith  so  strenuous  thus  liable  to 
fading  and  to  change?  Was  there  not  reason  to  doubt  the 
accuracy  of  my  perceptions?  With  images  like  these  was 
my  mind  thronged,  till  the  deportment  of  my  brother  called 
away  my  attention. 


Charles  Brockdcn  Broivn 

I  saw  his  lips  move  and  his  eyes  cast  up  to  heaven.  Then 
would  he  listen  and  look  back,  as  if  in  expectation  of  some 
one's  appearance.  Thrice  he  repeated  these  gesticulations 
and  this  inaudible  prayer.  Each  time  the  mist  of  confusion 
and  doubt  seemed  to  grow  darker  and  to  settle  on  his 
understanding.  I  guessed  at  the  meaning  of  these  tokens. 
The  words  of  Carwin  had  shaken  his  belief,  and  he  was 
employed  in  summoning  the  messenger  who  had  formerly 
communed  with  him,  to  attest  the  value  of  those  new 
doubts.  In  vain  the  summons  was  repeated,  for  his  eye  met 
nothing  but  vacancy,  and  not  a  sound  saluted  his  ear. 

He  walked  to  the  bed,  gazed  with  eagerness  at  the  pillow 
which  had  sustained  the  head  of  the  breathless  Catharine, 
and  then  returned  to  the  place  where  I  sat.  I  had  no  power 
to  lift  my  eyes  to  his  face :  I  was  dubious  of  his  purpose ; 
this  purpose  might  aim  at  my  life. 

Alas!  nothing  but  subjection  to  danger  and  exposure  to 
temptation  can  show  us  what  we  are.  By  this  test  was  I 
now  tried,  and  found  to  be  cowardly  and  rash.  Men  can 
deliberately  untie  the  thread  of  life,  and  of  this  I  had 
deemed  myself  capable.  It  was  now  that  I  stood  upon  the 
brink  of  fate,  that  the  knife  of  the  sacrificer  was  aimed  at 
my  heart,  I  shuddered,  and  betook  myself  to  any  means  of 
escape,  however  monstrous. 

Can  I  bear  to  think — can  I  endure  to  relate  the  outrage 
which  my  heart  meditated?  Where  were  my  means  of 
safety?  Resistance  was  vain.  Not  even  the  energy  of  de- 
spair could  set  me  on  a  level  with  that  strength  which  his 
terrific  prompter  had  bestowed  upon  Wieland.  Terror 
enables  us  to  perform  incredible  feats ;  but  terror  was  not 
then  the  state  of  my  mind:  where  then  were  my  hopes  of 
rescue  ? 

Methinks  it  is  too  much.  I  stand  aside,  as  it  were,  from 
myself ;  I  estimate  my  own  deservings ;  a  hatred,  immortal 
and  inexorable,  is  my  due.  I  listen  to  my  own  pleas,  and 
find  them  empty  and  false :  yes,  I  acknowledge  that  my 
guilt  surpasses  that  of  mankind ;  I  confess  that  the  curses 
of  a  world  and  the  frowns  of  a  Deity  are  inadequate  to  my 


American  Mystery  Stories 

demerits.  Is  there  a  thing  in  the  world  worthy  of  infinite 
abhorrence?    It  is  I. 

What  shall  I  say?  I  was  menaced,  as  I  thought,  with 
death,  and,  to  elude  this  evil,  my  hand  was  ready  to  inflict 
death  upon  the  menacer.  In  visiting  my  house,  I  had  made 
provision  against  the  machinations  of  Carwin.  In  a  fold 
of  my  dress  an  open  penknife  was  concealed.  This  I  now 
seized  and  drew  forth.  It  lurked  out  of  view ;  but  I  now 
see  that  my  state  of  mind  would  have  rendered  the  deed 
inevitable  if  my  brother  had  lifted  his  hand.  This  instru- 
ment of  my  preservation  would  have  been  plunged  into  his 

O  insupportable  remembrance!  hide  thee  from  my  view 
for  a  time ;  hide  it  from  me  that  my  heart  was  black  enough 
to  meditate  the  stabbing  of  a  brother !  a  brother  thus  su- 
preme in  misery ;  thus  towering  in  virtue ! 

He  was  probably  unconscious  of  my  design,  but  pres- 
ently drew  back.  This  interval  was  sufficient  to  restore  me 
to  myself.  The  madness,  the  iniquity,  of  that  act  which  I 
had  purposed  rushed  upon  my  apprehension.  For  a  mo- 
ment I  was  breathless  with  agony.  At  the  next  moment 
I  recovered  my  strength,  and  threw  the  knife  with  violence 
on  the  floor. 

The  sound  awoke  my  brother  from  his  reverie.  He  gazed 
alternately  at  me  and  at  the  weapon.  With  a  movement 
equally  solemn  he  stooped  and  took  it  up.  He  placed  the 
blade  in  different  positions,  scrutinizing  it  accurately,  and 
maintaining,  at  the  same  time,  a  profound  silence. 

Again  he  looked  at  me ;  but  all  that  vehemence  and  lofti- 
ness of  spirit  which  had  so  lately  characterized  his  features 
were  flown.  Fallen  muscles,  a  forehead  contracted  into 
folds,  eyes  dim  with  unbidden  drops,  and  a  ruefulness  of 
aspect  which  no  words  can  describe,  were  now  visible. 

His  looks  touched  into  energy  the  same  sympathies  in 
me,  and  I  poured  forth  a  flood  of  tears.  This  passion  was 
quickly  checked  by  fear,  which  had  now  no  longer  my  own 
but  his  safety  for  their  object.  I  watched  his  deportment 
in  silence.    At  length  he  spoke : — 


Charles  Brockdcn  Brotvn 

"  Sister,"  said  he,  in  an  accent  mournful  and  mild,  "  I 
have  acted  poorly  my  part  in  this  world.  What  thinkest 
thou  ?     Shall  I  not  do  better  in  the  next  ?  " 

I  could  make  no  answer.  The  mildness  of  his  tone  aston- 
ished and  encouraged  me.  I  continued  to  regard  him  with 
wistful  and  anxious  looks. 

"  I  think,"  resumed  he,  "  I  will  try.  My  wife  and  my 
babes  have  gone  before.  Happy  wretches!  I  have  sent 
you  to  repose,  and  ought  not  to  linger  behind." 

These  words  had  a  meaning  sufficiently  intelligible.  I 
looked  at  the  open  knife  in  his  hand  and  shuddered,  but 
knew  not  how  to  prevent  the  deed  which  I  dreaded.  He 
quickly  noticed  my  fears,  and  comprehended  them.  Stretch- 
ing toward  me  his  hand,  with  an  air  of  increasing  mildness, 
"  Take  it,"  said  he ;  "  fear  not  for  thy  own  sake,  nor  for 
mine.  The  cup  is  gone  by,  and  its  transient  inebriation  is 
succeeded  by  the  soberness  of  truth. 

"  Thou  angel  whom  I  was  wont  to  worship !  fearest 
thou,  my  sister,  for  thy  life?  Once  it  was  the  scope  of  my 
labors  to  destroy  thee,  but  I  was  prompted  to  the  deed  by 
heaven;  such,  at  least,  was  my  belief.  Thinkest  thou  that 
thy  death  was  sought  to  gratify  malevolence?  No.  I  am 
pure  from  all  stain.    I  believed  that  my  God  was  my  mover ! 

"  Neither  thee  nor  myself  have  I  cause  to  injure.  I  have 
done  my  duty ;  and  surely  there  is  merit  in  having  sacrificed 
to  that  all  that  is  dear  to  the  heart  of  man.  If  a  devil  has 
deceived  me,  he  came  in  the  habit  of  an  angel.  HI  erred, 
it  was  not  my  judgment  that  deceived  me,  but  my  senses. 
In  thy  sight.  Being  of  beings!  I  am  still  pure.  Still  will 
I  look  for  my  reward  in  thy  justice ! " 

Did  my  ears  truly  report  these  sounds?  If  I  did  not 
err,  my  brother  was  restored  to  just  perceptions.  He  knew 
himself  to  have  been  betrayed  to  the  murder  of  his  wife 
and  children,  to  have  been  the  victim  of  infernal  artifice ; 
yet  he  found  consolation  in  the  rectitude  of  his  motives. 
He  was  not  devoid  of  sorrow,  for  this  was  written  on  his 
countenance;  but  his  soul  was  tranquil  and  sublime. 
Perhaps  this  was  merely  a  transition  of  his  former  mad- 


American  Mystery  Stories 

ness  into  a  new  shape.  Perhaps  he  had  not  yet  awakened 
to  the  memory  of  the  horrors  which  he  had  perpetrated. 
Infatuated  wretch  that  I  was !  To  set  myself  up  as  a  model 
by  which  to  judge  of  my  heroic  brother !  My  reason  taught 
me  that  his  conclusions  were  right ;  but,  conscious  of  the 
impotence  of  reason  over  my  own  conduct,  conscious  of 
my  cowardly  rashness  and  my  criminal  despair,  I  doubted 
whether  anyone  could  be  steadfast  and  wise. 

Such  was  my  weakness,  that  even  in  the  midst  of  these 
thoughts  my  mind  glided  into  abhorrence  of  Carwin,  and 
I  uttered,  in  a  low  voice,  "  O  Carwin !  Carwin !  what  hast 
thou  to  answer  for  ?  " 

My  brother  immediately  noticed  the  involuntary  exclama- 
tion. *'  Clara !  "  said  he,  "  be  thyself.  Equity  used  to  be 
a  theme  for  thy  eloquence.  Reduce  its  lessons  to  practice, 
and  be  just  to  that  unfortunate  man.  The  instrument  has 
done  its  work,  and  I  am  satisfied. 

"  I  thank  thee,  my  God,  for  this  last  illumination !  My 
enemy  is  thine  also.  I  deemed  him  to  be  a  man, — the  man 
with  whom  I  have  often  communed ;  but  now  thy  goodness 
has  unveiled  to  me  his  true  nature.  As  the  performer  of 
thy  behests,  he  is  my  friend." 

My  heart  began  now  to  misgive  me.  His  mournful 
aspect  had  gradually  yielded  place  to  a  serene  brow.  A 
new  soul  appeared  to  actuate  his  frame,  and  his  eyes  to 
beam  with  preternatural  luster.  These  symptoms  did  not 
abate,  and  he  continued : — 

"  Clara,  I  must  not  leave  thee  in  doubt.  I  know  not 
what  brought  about  thy  interview  with  the  being  whom 
thou  callest  Carwin.  For  a  time  I  was  guilty  of  thy  error, 
and  deduced  from  his  incoherent  confessions  that  I  had 
been  made  the  victim  of  human  malice.  He  left  us  at  my 
bidding,  and  I  put  up  a  prayer  that  my  doubts  should  be 
removed.  Thy  eyes  were  shut  and  thy  ears  sealed  to  the 
vision  that  answered  my  prayer. 

"  I  was  indeed  deceived.  The  form  thou  hast  seen  was 
the  incarnation  of  a  demon.  The  visage  and  voice  which 
urged  me  to  the  sacrifice  of  my  family  were  his.     Now  he 


Charles  Brockden  Brown 

personates  a  human  form;  then  he  was  environed  with  the 
luster  of  heaven. 

"  Clara,"  he  continued,  advancing  closer  to  me,  "  thy 
death  must  come.  This  minister  is  evil,  but  he  from  whom 
his  commission  was  received  is  God.  Submit  then  with  all 
thy  wonted  resignation  to  a  decree  that  cannot  be  reversed 
or  resisted.  Mark  the  clock.  Three  minutes  are  allowed 
to  thee,  in  which  to  call  up  thy  fortitude  and  prepare  thee 
for  thy  doom."     There  he  stopped. 

Even  now,  when  this  scene  exists  only  in  memory,  when 
life  and  all  its  functions  have  sunk  into  torpor,  my  pulse 
throbs,  and  my  hairs  uprise ;  my  brows  are  knit,  as  then, 
and  I  gaze  around  me  in  distraction.  I  was  unconquerably 
averse  to  death ;  but  death,  imminent  and  full  of  agony  as 
that  which  was  threatened,  was  nothing.  This  was  not  the 
only  or  chief  inspirer  of  my  fears. 

For  him,  not  for  myself,  was  my  soul  tormented.  I 
might  die,  and  no  crime,  surpassing  the  reach  of  mercy, 
would  pursue  me  to  the  presence  of  my  Judge ;  but  my 
assassin  would  survive  to  contemplate  his  deed,  and  that 
assassin  was  Wieland! 

Wings  to  bear  me  beyond  his  reach  I  had  not.  I  could 
not  vanish  with  a  thought.  The  door  was  open,  but  my 
murderer  was  interposed  between  that  and  me.  Of  self- 
defense  I  was  incapable.  The  frenzy  that  lately  prompted 
me  to  blood  was  gone :  my  state  was  desperate ;  my  rescue 
was  impossible. 

The  weight  of  these  accumulated  thoughts  could  not 
be  borne.  My  sight  became  confused;  my  limbs  were 
seized  with  convulsion;  I  spoke,  but  my  words  were  half 
formed : — 

"  Spare  me,  my  brother !  Look  down,  righteous  Judge ! 
snatch  me  from  this  fate !  take  away  this  fury  from  him, 
or  turn  it  elsewhere !  " 

Such  was  the  agony  of  my  thoughts  that  I  noticed  not 
steps  entering  my  apartment.  Supplicating  eyes  were  cast 
upward ;  but  when  my  prayer  was  breathed  I  once  more 
wildly  gazed  at  the  door.     A  form  met  my  sight;  I  shud- 


American  Mystery  Stories 

dered  as  if  the  God  whom  I  invoked  were  present.  It 
was  Carwin  that  again  int«-uded,  and  who  stood  before  me, 
erect  in  attitude  and  stead  last  in  look! 

The  sight  of  him  awakened  new  and  rapid  thoughts. 
His  recent  tale  was  remembered ;  his  magical  transitions 
and  mysterious  energy  of  voice.  Whether  he  were  infernal 
or  miraculous  or  human,  there  was  no  power  and  no  need 
to  decide.  Whether  the  contriver  or  not  of  this  spell,  he 
was  able  to  unbind  it,  and  to  check  the  fury  of  my  brother. 
He  had  ascribed  to  himself  intentions  not  malignant.  Here 
now  was  afforded  a  test  of  his  truth.  Let  him  interpose, 
as  from  above ;  revoke  the  savage  decree  which  the  mad- 
ness of  Wieland  has  assigned  to  heaven,  and  extinguish 
forever  this  passion  for  blood ! 

My  mind  detected  at  a  glance  this  avenue  to  safety.  The 
recommendations  it  possessed  thronged  as  it  were  together, 
and  made  but  one  impression  on  my  intellect.  Remoter 
effects  and  collateral  dangers  I  saw  not.  Perhaps  the  pause 
of  an  instant  had  sufficed  to  call  them  up.  The  improba- 
bility that  the  influence  which  governed  Wieland  was  ex- 
ternal or  human ;  the  tendency  of  this  stratagem  to  sanction 
so  fatal  an  error  or  substitute  a  more  destructive  rage  in 
place  of  this ;  the  insufficiency  of  Carwin's  mere  muscular 
forces  to  counteract  the  efforts  and  restrain  the  fury  of 
Wieland,  might,  at  a  second  glance,  have  been  discovered ; 
but  no  second  glance  was  allowed.  My  first  thought  hur- 
ried me  to  action,  and,  fixing  my  eyes  upon  Carwin,  I 
exclaimed, — 

"  O  wretch !  once  more  hast  thou  come  ?  Let  it  be  to 
abjure  thy  malice ;  to  counterwork  this  hellish  stratagem ; 
to  turn  from  me  and  from  my  brother  this  desolating  rage ! 

"  Testify  thy  innocence  or  thy  remorse ;  exert  the  powers 
which  pertain  to  thee,  whatever  they  be,  to  turn  aside  this 
ruin.  Thou  art  the  author  of  these  horrors!  What  have 
I  done  to  deserve  thus  to  die?  How  have  I  merited  this 
unrelenting  persecution?  I  adjure  thee,  by  that  God  whose 
voice  thou  hast  dared  to  counterfeit,  to  save  my  life! 

"  Wilt  thou  then  go  ? — leave  me !    Succorless !  " 


Charles  Brockdcn  Brown 

Carwin  listened  to  my  entreaties  unmoved,  and  turned 
from  me.  He  seemed  to  hesitate  a  moment, — then  glided 
through  the  door.  Rage  and  despair  stifled  my  utterance. 
The  interval  of  respite  was  past ;  the  pangs  reserved  for 
me  by  Wieland  were  not  to  be  endured ;  my  thoughts  rushed 
again  into  anarchy.  Having  received  the  knife  from  his 
hand,  I  held  it  loosely  and  without  regard ;  but  now  it  seized 
again  my  attention,  and  I  grasped  it  with  force. 

He  seemed  to  notice  not  the  entrance  or  exit  of  Carwin. 
My  gesture  and  the  murderous  weapon  appeared  to  have 
escaped  his  notice.  His  silence  was  unbroken ;  his  eye, 
fixed  upon  the  clock  for  a  time,  was  now  withdrawn ;  fury 
kindled  in  every  feature ;  all  that  was  human  in  his  face 
gave  way  to  an  expression  supernatural  and  tremendous. 
I  felt  my  left  arm  within  his  grasp. 

Even  now  I  hesitated  to  strike.  I  shrunk  from  his 
assault,  but  in  vain. 

Here  let  me  desist.  Why  should  I  rescue  this  event  from 
oblivion?  Why  should  I  paint  this  detestable  conflict? 
Why  not  terminate  at  once  this  series  of  horrors? — Hurry 
to  the  verge  of  the  precipice,  and  cast  myself  forever  be- 
yond remembrance  and  beyond  hope? 

Still  I  live ;  with  this  load  upon  my  breast ;  with  this 
phantom  to  pursue  my  steps ;  with  adders  lodged  in  my 
bosom,  and  stinging  me  to  madness ;  still  I  consent  to  live ! 

Yes !  I  will  rise  above  the  sphere  of  mortal  passions ;  I 
will  spurn  at  the  cowardly  remorse  that  bids  me  seek  im- 
punity in  silence,  or  comfort  in  forgetfulness.  My  nerves 
shall  be  new-strung  to  the  task.  Have  I  not  resolved?  I 
will  die.  The  gulf  before  me  is  inevitable  and  near.  I  will 
die,  but  then  only  when  my  tale  is  at  an  end. 


My  right  hand,  grasping  the  unseen  knife,  was  still  dis- 
engaged. It  was  lifted  to  strike.  All  my  strength  was 
exhausted  but  what  was  sufficient  to  the  performance  of  this 


American  Mystery  Stories 

deed.     Already  was  the  energy  awakened  and  the  impulse 

given  that  should  bear  the  fatal  steel  to  his  heart,  when 

Wieland  shrunk  back ;  his  hand  was  withdrawn.  Breath- 
less with  affright  and  desperation,  I  stood,  freed  from  his 
grasp ;  unassailed  ;  untouched. 

Thus  long  had  the  power  which  controlled  the  scene 
forborne  to  interfere :  but  now  his  might  was  irresistible ; 
and  Wieland  in  a  moment  was  disarmed  of  all  his  pur- 
poses. A  voice,  louder  than  human  organs  could  produce, 
shriller  than  language  can  depict,  burst  from  the  ceiling 
and  commanded  him — to  hold! 

Trouble  and  dismay  succeeded  to  the  steadfastness  that 
had  lately  been  displayed  in  the  looks  of  Wieland.  His 
eyes  roved  from  one  quarter  to  another,  with  an  expression 
of  doubt.     He  seemed  to  wait  for  a  further  intimation. 

Carwin's  agency  was  here  easily  recognized.  I  had  be- 
sought him  to  interpose  in  my  defense.  He  had  flown.  I 
had  imagined  him  deaf  to  my  prayer,  and  resolute  to  see 
me  perish ;  yet  he  disappeared  merely  to  devise  and  execute 
the  means  of  my  relief. 

Why  did  he  not  forbear  when  this  end  was  accomplished  ? 
Why  did  his  misjudging  zeal  and  accursed  precipitation 
overpass  that  limit  ?  Or  meant  he  thus  to  crown  the  scene, 
and  conduct  his  inscrutable  plots  to  this  consummation? 

Such  ideas  were  the  fruit  of  subsequent  contemplation. 
This  moment  was  pregnant  with  fate.  I  had  no  power  to 
reason.  In  the  career  of  my  tempestuous  thoughts,  rent 
into  pieces  as  my  mind  was  by  accumulating  horrors.  Car- 
win  was  unseen  and  unsuspected.  I  partook  of  Wieland's 
credulity,  shook  with  his  amazement,  and  panted  with  his 

Silence  took  place  for  a  moment :  so  much  as  allowed 
the  attention  to  recover  its  post.  Then  new  sounds  were 
uttered  from  above : — 

"  Man  of  errors !  cease  to  cherish  thy  delusion ;  not 
heaven  or  hell,  but  thy  senses,  have  misled  thee  to  commit 
these  acts.  Shake  off  thy  frenzy,  and  ascend  into  rational 
and  human.     Be  lunatic  no  longer." 


Charles  Brockden  Brown 

My  brother  opened  his  Hps  to  speak.  His  tone  was  ter- 
rific and  faint.  He  muttered  an  appeal  to  heaven.  It  was 
difficult  to  comprehend  the  theme  of  his  inquiries.  They 
implied  doubt  as  to  the  nature  of  the  impulse  that  hitherto 
had  guided  him,  and  questioned  whether  he  had  acted  in 
consequence  of  insane  perceptions. 

To  these  interrogatories  the  voice,  which  now  seemed  to 
hover  at  his  shoulder,  loudly  answered  in  the  affirmative. 
Then  uninterrupted  silence  ensued. 

Fallen  from  his  lofty  and  heroic  station ;  now  finally 
restored  to  the  perception  of  truth ;  weighed  to  earth  by 
the  recollection  of  his  own  deeds ;  cons-oled  no  longer  by 
a  consciousness  of  rectitude  for  the  loss  of  offspring  and 
wife, — a  loss  for  which  he  was  indebted  to  his  own  mis- 
guided hand, — Wieland  was  transformed  at  once  into  the 
man  of  sorrozvs! 

He  reflected  not  that  credit  should  be  as  reasonably  de- 
nied to  the  last  as  to  any  former  intimation ;  that  one  might 
as  justly  be  ascribed  to  erring  or  diseased  senses  as  the 
other.  He  saw  not  that  this  discovery  in  no  degree  affected 
the  integrity  of  his  conduct ;  that  his  motives  had  lost  none 
of  their  claims  to  the  homage  of  mankind ;  that  the  prefer- 
ence of  supreme  good,  and  the  boundless  energy  of  duty, 
were  undiminished  in  his  bosom. 

It  is  not  for  me  to  pursue  him  through  the  ghastly 
changes  of  his  countenance.  Words  he  had  none.  Now 
he  sat  upon  the  floor,  motionless  in  all  his  limbs,  with  his 
eyes  glazed  and  fixed,  a  monument  of  woe. 

Anon  a  spirit  of  tempestuous  but  undesigning  activity 
seized  him.  He  rose  from  his  place  and  strode  across  the 
floor,  tottering  and  at  random.  His  eyes  were  without 
moisture,  and  gleamed  with  the  fire  that  consumed  his 
vitals.  The  muscles  of  his  face  were  agitated  by  convul- 
sions.   His  lips  moved,  but  no  sound  escaped  him. 

That  nature  should  long  sustain  this  conflict  was  not  to 
be  believed.  My  state  was  little  different  from  that  of  my 
brother.  I  entered,  as  it  were,  into  his  thoughts.  My 
heart  was  visited  and  rent  by  his  pangs.     "  Oh  that  thy 


American  Mystery  Stories 

frenzy  had  never  been  cured!  that  thy  madness,  with  its 
bHssful  visions,  would  return !  or,  if  that  must  not  be,  that 
thy  scene  would  hasten  to  a  close ! — that  death  would  cover 
thee  with  his  oblivion ! 

"  What  can  I  wish  for  thee  ?  Thou  who  hast  vied  with 
the  great  Preacher  of  thy  faith  in  sanctity  of  motives,  and 
in  elevation  above  sensual  and  selfish !  Thou  whom  thy 
fate  has  changed  into  parricide  and  savage!  Can  I  wish 
for  the  continuance  of  thy  being?     No." 

For  a  time  his  movements  seemed  destitute  of  purpose. 
If  he  walked;  if  he  turned;  if  his  fingers  were  entwined 
with  each  other;  if  his  hands  were  pressed  against  oppo- 
site sides  of  his  head  with  a  force  sufficient  to  crush  it  into 
pieces ;  it  was  to  tear  his  mind  from  self-contemplation ; 
to  waste  his  thoughts  on  external  objects. 

Speedily  this  train  was  broken.  A  beam  appeared  to  be 
darted  into  his  mind  which  gave  a  purpose  to  his  efforts. 
An  avenue  to  escape  presented  itself ;  and  now  he  eagerly 
gazed  about  him.  When  my  thoughts  became  engaged  by 
his  demeanor,  my  fingers  were  stretched  as  by  a  mechanical 
force,  and  the  knife,  no  longer  heeded  or  of  use,  escaped 
from  my  grasp  and  fell  unperceived  on  the  floor.  His  eye 
now  lighted  upon  it;  he  seized  it  with  the  quickness  of 

I  shrieked  aloud,  but  it  was  too  late.  He  plunged  it  to 
the  hilt  in  his  neck ;  and  his  life  instantly  escaped  with  the 
stream  that  gushed  from  the  wound.  He  was  stretched  at 
my  feet;  and  my  hands  were  sprinkled  with  his  blood  as 
he  fell. 

Such  was  thy  last  deed,  my  brother!  For  a  spectacle 
like  this  was  it  my  fate  to  be  reserved!  Thy  eyes  were 
closed — thy  face  ghastly  with  death — thy  arms,  and  the 
spot  where  thou  lyedst,  floated  in  thy  life's  blood!  These 
images  have  not  for  a  moment  forsaken  me.  Till  I  am 
breathless  and  cold,  they  must  continue  to  hover  in  my 

Carwin,  as  I  said,  had  left  the  room;  but  he  still  lin- 
gered in  the  house.     My  voice  summoned  him  to  my  aid; 


Charles  Brockdcn  Broivn 

but  I  scarcely  noticed  his  reentrance,  and  now  faintly 
recollect  his  terrified  looks,  his  broken  exclamations,  his 
vehement  avowals  of  innocence,  the  effusions  of  his  pity 
for  me,  and  his  offers  of  assistance. 

I  did  not  listen — I  answered  him  not — I  ceased  to  up- 
braid or  accuse.  His  guilt  was  a  point  to  which  I  was 
indifferent.  Ruffian  or  devil,  black  as  hell  or  bright  as 
angels,  thenceforth  he  was  nothing  to  me.  I  was  incapable 
of  sparing  a  look  or  a  thought  from  the  ruin  that  was 
spread  at  my  feet. 

When  he  left  me,  T  was  scarcely  conscious  of  any  varia- 
tion in  the  scene.  He  informed  the  inhabitants  of  the  hut 
of  what  had  passed,  and  they  flew  to  the  spot.  Careless  of 
his  own  safety,  he  hasted  to  the  city  to  inform  my  friends 
of  my  condition. 

My  uncle  speedily  arrived  at  the  house.  The  body  of 
Wieland  was  removed  from  my  presence,  and  they  sup- 
posed that  I  would  follow  it;  but  no,  my  home  is  ascer- 
tained; here  I  have  taken  up  my  rest,  and  never  will  I  go 
hence,  till,  like  Wieland,  I  am  borne  to  my  grave. 

Importunity  was  tried  in  vain.  They  threatened  to  re- 
move me  by  violence, — nay,  violence  was  used ;  but  my  soul 
prizes  too  dearly  this  little  roof  to  endure  to  be  bereaved 
of  it.  Force  should  not  prevail  when  the  hoary  locks  and 
supplicating  tears  of  my  uncle  were  ineffectual.  My  re- 
pugnance to  move  gave  birth  to  ferociousness  and  frenzy 
when  force  was  employed,  and  they  were  obliged  to  consent 
to  my  return. 

They  besought  me — they  remonstrated — they  appealed  to 
every  duty  that  connected  me  with  Him  that  made  me  and 
with  my  fellow-men — in  vain.  While  I  live  I  will  not  go 
hence.     Have  I  not  fulfilled  my  destiny? 

Why  will  ye  torment  me  with  your  reasonings  and  re- 
proofs ?  Can  ye  restore  to  me  the  hope  of  my  better  days  ? 
Can  ye  give  me  back  Catharine  and  her  babes?  Can  ye 
recall  to  life  him  who  died  at  my  feet? 

I  will  eat — I  will  drink — I  will  lie  down  and  rise  up — at 
your  bidding;  all  I  ask  is  the  choice  of  my  abode.    What 

,  303 

American  Mystery  Stories 

is  there  unreasonable  in  this  demand?  Shortly  will  I  be 
at  peace.  This  is  the  spot  which  I  have  chosen  in  which  to 
breathe  my  last  sigh.  Deny  me  not,  I  beseech  you,  so 
slight  a  boon. 

Talk  not  to  me,  O  my  reverend  friend!  of  Carwin.  He 
has  told  thee  his  tale,  and  thou  exculpatest  him  from  all 
direct  concern  in  the  fate  of  Wieland.  This  scene  of 
havoc  was  produced  by  an  illusion  of  the  senses.  Be  it  so ; 
I  care  not  from  what  source  these  disasters  have  flowed; 
it  suffices  that  they  have  swallowed  up  our  hopes  and  our 

What  his  agency  began,  his  agency  conducted  to  a  close. 
He  intended,  by  the  final  effort  of  his  power,  to  rescue  me 
and  to  banish  his  illusions  from  my  brother.  Such  is  his 
tale,  concerning  the  truth  of  which  I  care  not.  Hence- 
forth I  foster  but  one  wish:  I  ask  only  quick  deliverance 
from  life  and  all  the  ills  that  attend  it. 

Go,  wretch!  torment  me  not  with  thy  presence  and  thy 
prayers. — Forgive  thee?  Will  that  avail  thee  when  thy 
fateful  hour  shall  arrive?  Be  thou  acquitted  at  thy  own 
tribunal,  and  thou  needest  not  fear  the  verdict  of  others. 
If  thy  guilt  be  capable  of  blacker  hues,  if  hitherto  thy  con- 
science be  without  stain,  thy  crime  will  be  made  more 
flagrant  by  thus  violating  my  retreat.  Take  thyself  away 
from  my  sight  if  thou  wouldst  not  behold  my  death! 

Thou  art  gone!  murmuring  and  reluctant!  And  now 
my  repose  is  coming — my  work  is  done  I